Spain: October 1558, 21-31

Pages 416-435

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

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October 1558, 21–31

481. Philip to the English Privy Council
The Camp at Flers, 22 October Having been informed of the illness of the Queen, our spouse, we are moved to send a person to England to attend to certain business, visit her, and excuse our absence. Although Count Feria's presence is needed here, we have decided to send him, because he was agreeable to the Queen during his recent mission in England and gave us and you satisfaction in the negotiations he then conducted. We have therefore instructed him to proceed thither and to inform you of everything we have on our mind.
You will give him credence as you would ourselves, for by so doing you will not only do us pleasure but will behave as his incredible love for you deserves.
Copy. Latin
Simancas, E.811.
482. Philip to Cardinal Pole
Chateau de Flers, 22 October I am sending Count Feria to serve the Queen during her illness, being unable to proceed to England in person as I would have wished to do I have charged him to visit you on my behalf and tell you how greatly I should rejoice to see you free of the quartain fever and restored to complete health, because of the great love and esteem I have for you. I beg you affectionately to give him the same credence that you would to myself in whatever he may say to you and to let me know through him how you are and whether there is any way in which I can give you pleasure, for I greatly desire to do this.
Draft. Spanish.
Simancas, E.811.
Printed by Kervyn de Lettenhove, Relations Politiques, Vol. I.
483. Philip to the Queen's physicians
The Camp at Flers, 22 October You have given us the greatest pleasure by the efforts you have made to bring back her Majesty to health and by reporting to us on her progress. Although it may be superfluous to do so, our concern for her welfare is such that we must encourage you to continue until the root of her illness has been removed. You will hear more to this purpose from Count Feria, whom we are sending to England.
Copy. Latin.
Simancas, E.811.
484. The Spanish Peace Commissioners to Philip (Extract)
Cercamp, 23 October . . . . . . . . The French being unwilling to proceed further with the discussion on the future without knowing what was to happen about Calais, it was decided to adjourn until the following day, when the English envoys should be invited to attend the conference . . . . . . . . .
Draft. French.
Besançon, C.G.34.
Printed by Weiss, Vol. V.
485. The Spanish Peace Commissioners to Philip
Cercamp, 24 October . . . . . (fn. 1) Moreover, Calais had not been ceded in order to obtain the release of the said King, (fn. 2) but in exchange for a number of places which King Edward (III), then reigning, had occupied and later returned to the French, the release of the King having been negotiated for a ransom of three million, which never was paid, the (French) king having died immediately after his arrival in London, not to mention the prescription conferred by the intervening two hundred years all but two, without interruption, during which the return of Calais was never raised in any of the treaties, and France's claims to it never reserved.
The French, on the other hand, argued that the chief condition imposed by the said treaty (fn. 3) was the release of their King, which had never been effected, as he died in prison, and no places had been handed back. Since then, the English had invaded those same places which they claimed they had returned. They had often demanded the restitution of Calais, through their ambassadors. In a case where there is no competent judge, no legal action to avoid prescription is called for. In reply it was averred that even in suits against the Church of Rome, which is so greatly protected by law, prescription ensues when there has been possession within memory of man, which they said meant one hundred years. It was also stated that the places were returned, as laid down by the treaty, in exchange for rights to Calais. In support of this contention, they began reading the texts of several treaties, and there was some dispute, but little progress towards agreement.
Next, came the two million which the English claim as owing to them in respect of loans and other debts, especially moneys which went to the most Christian King to help him in his wars, and sums which the French paid to the Emperor for the King of England in execution of the treaties of Madrid and Cambrai, involving the restitution of the fleur-de-lys (fn. 4) snd other sureties. The sum, they said, had been agreed with the late Regent, mother of the late King Francis, by a treaty concluded at Moore, (fn. 5) and confirmed by the treaty made with the late King Henry after the taking of Boulogne, (fn. 6) which stipulated that the King should keep Boulogne for eight years, i.e. until 1554, and that when he returned it, the French should pay the two million.
The French retorted that the late King of England had promised by the Treaty of Moore not to make war on them or to ally himself with the Emperor to their prejudice, and that in the year 1542 he had so allied himself, and soon afterwards had made war on them in league with the Emperor. Also that Boulogne had been returned to them as a result of a treaty concluded with the late King Edward, (fn. 7) on the payment of 400,000 crowns; and that as Boulogne had been left as surety for the two million (claimed) by the late King Henry, and later given up for 400,000 crowns, the latter sum had been (accepted) in lieu of the two million.
In rebuttal, the English asserted that the late King Henry had made war on the French because the late King of France had been unwilling to pay what he owed him, although he had often been called upon to do so. King Henry's claim was a just one, and had been confirmed by the last treaty he concluded. The treaty made by the late King Edward, a child on whom the French had made war in violation of the aforesaid treaty, did not affect the debt of two million, and indeed did not mention it. The French, on the other hand, denied that they had ever refused to pay King Henry, who they said had raised his claim only once, and that then the Bishop of Orleans, here present, had been sent to England to explain why prompt payment was impossible, the demand having been made when the late King of France was at war, that is at a time when a prince is short of money. Thus there was a long argument, and no practical agreement.
Next, it was claimed that either the realm of France should be handed over, or the pensions should be paid, in conformity with the treaty of perpetual peace concluded between the two Kings. But the French claim that they are not obliged to make these payments, the last treaty concluded with King Henry having compounded all the old debts for two million. In brief, the French deny that they are bound to make any of the payments stipulated by the old treaties, maintaining that the Queen had forgone any rights she might have claimed under them by declaring war on France. The English stick to the opposite view, saying that the French gave them cause for war by invading our territories, we being their allies, besides the special causes they furnished to the Queen by their machinations against her person. More wrangling followed on this point, and also on the calculation (of the sums mentioned), each side arriving at a different figure.
By way of changing the subject, the French then presented a claim, on behalf of the Scots, to the territory of Warwyck (Berwick), thus reopening a quarrel which is some two hundred years old. But when they saw that the English wanted to go into the Scottish question, they extricated themselves by asserting that although they had been commissioned by the King-Dauphin and his wife (fn. 8) to act for them, they had not yet received the memorandum on the matter which they were expecting, wherefore they would have to revert to the question later. Then, remarking that some way of composing all these difficulties would have to be found, they rose, thus ending a meeting that had lasted a very long time because of the disputes on the above-mentioned matters, all of which came down to what we have stated. We will add that at the very beginning there had been disagreement on powers, for the French have not yet received those they need, either to represent their master or to act in the Scottish affair. Tomorrow morning, we are to meet the English and confer with them as to the best means for enabling them to obtain their due.
When we had risen, the Constable mentioned that there were only seven days to go before the suspension of arms lapsed, and that unless it were prolonged in season there might be disorders on the frontiers which we would find it difficult to make good. We suggested discussing this matter to-morrow at church, after mass, hoping that we might be able, privately, to find out their intentions regarding the English. They have often repeated to us that some means must be devised, and that we ought to intervene to prevent the Calais affair and the other English claims from prolonging the war. As for the suspension of arms, subject to your Majesty's correction, we would be in favour of prolonging it for the duration of these negotiations and four or five days after they end, in case we were to reach no agreement, and that we should settle this matter, here and now, and that proclamations should be made on the frontiers that the suspension is to hold until further notice. We will inform your Majesty of what passes with the French to-morrow.
Your Majesty may recollect that when the French asked us what dowry we would want with their daughter, we replied that we were sure that the chief dowry your Majesty desired was friendship and settlement of all differences by means of this marriage; but as for stating the dowry, that was rather a matter for the two fathers than for their ministers. If we set it too low, your Majesty might not approve, and if too high, you might think it excessive. As this point may come up again, we beg your Majesty to tell us what sum we are to mention, and how much we are finally to insist upon.
Draft. French.
Besançon, C.G.34.
Printed by Weiss, Vol. V.
486. The Peace Commissioners to Philip II
Cercamp, 25 October In the morning, we met the French envoys and agreed, subject to the approval of your Majesty and their master, that the present suspension of arms should be prolonged for the duration of these negotiations and, in the event of their failure, for six days after they end, proclamation being made on the frontiers that it is to continue until further notice.
We spent all the afternoon with the Queen of England's three envoys, discussing what they were to do now, as they had failed to reach any agreement with the French yesterday. In order to make their position clear, they showed us all the treaties they quote in support of their case. We read them through, and are of opinion that the English are more justified than the French admit. Hoping that by exhibiting these documents it may be possible to promote an agreement between them and the French, we went to meet the Cardinal of Lorraine this evening in the Duchess of Lorraine's apartments, and arranged with him that the Bishop of Ely and Wotton, for the English, and for the French the Bishops of Orleans and Limoges, (fn. 9) and if they wish l'Aubépine, are to meet at eight o'clock to-morrow morning in the apartments occupied by me, the Bishop of Arras, to hear the treaties applicable to this question read out, of which the French have their own copies which they must have seen, and also whatever the French may wish to produce on their side, in the hope that the two parties may thus be brought nearer together.
As the French seem to us very obstinate and unreasonable in their refusal to give up Calais, we think that Count Feria, whom your Majesty is sending to England, might inform the Queen of what has taken place so far in these negotiations, and that the French say that, once Calais is disposed of, they will consent to whatever your Majesty wishes. The Queen might then be asked to consider what had better be done, consulting her Council privately on the matter, for your Majesty is determined to agree to nothing without her approval, although as she sees it would be greatly to Christendom's advantage to make peace on reasonable terms. It should be pointed out that the utmost secrecy is required in this matter, because if the French learned of it, the result might be harmful to our negotiations. We mention a consultation between the Queen and her Council, in order that the English may not afterwards blame your Majesty and the Queen for whatever might be done without the Council's knowledge. While waiting for a reply, we will not fail to do our utmost to induce the French to admit reason. But to save time and not miss this opportunity, it will be necessary that your Majesty impress the Queen with the urgency of answering promptly. If Count Feria's journey to England were to be delayed, your Majesty might write or send a message to the Queen so that she should realise how important it is to reach a decision.
Draft. French.
Besançon, C.G. 34.
Printed by Weiss, Vol. V.
487. Philip to his Peace Commissioners
Arras, 26 October Your letters of the 23 and 24 of this month have informed me of your discussions with the French envoys. We have deliberated with the lords here, and have decided that the suspension of arms had better be prolonged, though not indefinitely. We fear that the French may have some dangerous idea in their heads; and we consider that a brief period would be preferable, say twelve or fifteen days, during which my troops will still be serving. This may help to make the French show their hands; and I wish to hear your opinion before deciding.
The second point you raise is to ask me what sum you shall mention, in case they revert to the question of a dowry for the King of France's daughter. If it is to be a sum of money, I would like to have your opinion, especially as you are aware of what is customary in cases of such importance. But as my chief aim in this negotiation, as you know, is to secure a good peace for Christendom, it seems to me that the best means ought to be sought out. It has been suggested that the return of Calais might be asked for by way of a dowry, and that to do this might facilitate the negotiations. For my part, I would be content with it, and would willingly set the general good before my personal interest. You will therefore try to steer the negotiations in this direction.
As for the third and last point, which is your suggestion that the Queen should be informed of the present state of the negotiations, I agree with you that it would be well to have Count Feria act in this matter, as you write. However, it seems that it would be preferable that news should first reach England about the stubbornness of the French over Calais through the English envoys now at Cercamp, rather than through me, for reasons which you will readily appreciate. Therefore you will gently induce them at once to report home on the subject. Meanwhile, Count Feria is preparing to set out, and as soon as he arrives in England he will do as you suggest. You will do your best to make the French show their hand on the other points, so that we may see where this negotiation is leading. Thus far, you have done very well.
Below, written in Spanish in the King's hand:
If your opinion on any of these points differs from mine, you may inform me, as we are so near. As for taking it (Calais) as a dowry, you will see whether it is something that can be arranged. If you do not think so, you will let me know, as you are more familiar with usage in these matters than I.
Signed: PHE; counter-signed: Berty. French.
Besançon, C.G. 34.
Printed by Weiss, Vol. V.
488. The Peace Commissioners to Philip
Cercamp, 26 and 27 October Sire: Your Majesty will have learned by our yesterday's letters that the French and English were to meet this morning, in the presence of me, the Bishop of Arras, to argue their case and display the documents they base it on. This was done, and it lasted the whole morning. For the French, there were the Bishop of Orleans, M. de l'Aubépine and his brother the Bishop of Limoges; and for the English, the Bishop of Ely and Ambassador Wotton. The treaties and other papers cited by the English were read out. After dinner, all the French lords and we met in the Duchess's apartments, the English however not being present, as we thought it better so; and we tried to persuade the French to make some proposal, giving them to understand that if it were a reasonable one we would do our best to induce the English to accept it.
We began by remarking that the English and French had met in our presence that morning, and that, as the three who had been there could bear witness, there had been read out almost the whole treaty between King Edward (III) of England and King John (II) of France, concluded after the battle of Poitiers, and also the treaty of perfect amity (fn. 10) made in 1527 between the late Kings Francis and Henry, as well as that concluded by the same sovereigns in 1546, which was the last one between them. Then came the most recent treaty between France and England, concluded between the present King of France and the late King Edward, acting with the assent of his guardians as he was not of age. It was unnecessary to read out the entire texts, as both sides had copies which they had perused, and the reading was only intended to refresh memories on certain points serving the present purpose. Then, the English had stated their demands in three points: (I) that Calais should be restored to them, as it was theirs; (2) that they should be paid the two million owing to them; and (3) that their pensions should be paid to them, together with arrears.
In support of the first point, they had appealed to the treaty concluded with King John in 1360 at Brétigny, asserting that by it the French had given up all claim to Calais, and ceded it with its territory to the English, who had in fact already held it for some years, (fn. 11) and that this cession was made in exchange for their rights to several places mentioned in the treaty, of which places they had been in possession for about 200 years. They thus asserted that Calais was theirs, especially as its cession had been concluded by the son of King John, then regent, who afterwards succeeded as Charles V, and for the King of England by the Prince of Wales, (fn. 12) and had been confirmed by the same King after he had been liberated from his prison in England and had returned free to France, when he issued letters of execution about Calais, which letters were read, freeing the subjects residing in and about Calais from their oath of allegiance, these places being ceded in full to the English, and the King of France having given up all claim to them, after which these treaties were ratified and confirmed by the Estates General and Parliament of France, as was demonstrated by documents.
In rebuttal of this, the French had said that King John died in prison, and that as this treaty's chief object had been to encompass his liberation, it had lost all force with his death in captivity. King John had returned to prison because some of his subjects had opposed the treaty, and certain hostages, and particularly his own son, had escaped from England. Therefore, as he had been unable to carry out the treaty, he returned to prison in order to keep his word, and died there, immediately after which his son, with Parliament's authority, had repealed the treaty, as it had not been possible to carry it out on their side.
To this, the English had rejoined that the object of the treaty, as its words (which were read) clearly stated, was to put an end to the evils of war. It was specified that the liberation of the King was (the object of) one of the articles of the treaty, but not the principal one. The renouncement of Calais had been matched by what the English had given up. King John's deliverance had been agreed for a payment of three million crowns, and this sum had never been paid; also, the treaty had been concluded and sworn to, a clause in it specifying that it was to be confirmed by the King, when he had returned to France, at liberty. So the ratification had been executed, as documents were produced to show. Subsequently, King John had remained for two years in France. It could not be said that he had been obliged to return (to England), or that hostages had been given to that end. The treaty made it clear that hostages were to be given to ensure its execution, and laid down what the King of France was obliged to do in case the hostages died, or escaped from England, or refused to go there: i.e. he was to provide others of equal quality, if he could, but need not return to England. Froissart, an historian approved by the French themselves, says expressly that the King felt the desire to return to England, where he had been favourably treated; that he went there, not to give himself up as a prisoner, but to make his excuses because his son, who had been a hostage, had escaped. Although some had tried to dissuade him, he insisted upon going. Once arrived in England he had been very well received, even more honourably (than on the former occasion), but he had soon fallen ill in London, and died there, and his body had been sent to St. Denis. As the treaty had been duly passed and confirmed, France's failure to carry it out ought not to prejudice the English case, or to be quoted as an argument against the validity of the cession of Calais.
The French had only replied that their King had certainly died in England, and that it could not be supposed that he would have left his kingdom unless he had been bound by his word to do so, honourable prince that he was; wherefore it could not be said that he had been free. As he had negotiated when a prisoner, his giving up of Calais could not be valid.
The English had retorted that what the French stated was mere conjecture. They ought to be able to prove it by the text, as the English had done. But the text showed that the King had been at liberty, and had returned to England of his own accord for the above-mentioned reason, and not to go to prison. Moreover, in law, princes and other prisoners were bound to observe what they had undertaken to do when in prison. But it was unnecessary to touch upon that point, because the King of France had been free and under no obligation to return to prison, when he went back to England.
Further, not only had their possession never been interrupted since then, but it had been confirmed, as would be remembered, in 1527, on the occasion of the treaty of perpetual amity concluded between Kings Francis and Henry, when there certainly was no question of force, as at that time those princes were great friends. The treaty of 1546, concluded after the taking of Boulogne, had laid down expressly that the two princes would not disturb one another in the possession of what they then held, and similar dispositions were included in the last treaty, between the late King Edward and the present King of France. Thirty years had gone by since the treaty of perpetual amity had been passed, without anything happening to interrupt English possession of Calais.
All the French found to say to this was that the English, having made war on them, had forfeited all claims under the treaties, that there could be no prescription as between princes who had no superiors before whom one of them could be summoned, and that whenever there had been a state of war between France and England possession had been interrupted.
The English had replied that the French had made war on them, or had given them valid cause for war, repeating their argument mentioned above as to prescription, in order to show that in this case it had ensued.
Next, the English had raised their second point, arguing the matter of the two million as follows: when King Francis was a prisoner, King Henry had lent him various sums with which to carry on the war. These sums, and others owed by King Francis, had been compounded when the Treaty of Moore was concluded with the Regent, an obligation having then been assumed to pay two million crowns in satisfaction of all debts. This treaty had been confirmed by King Francis after his release from prison, and the obligation had been once more confirmed by the treaty of perpetual peace. The treaty concluded after the taking of Boulogne, in 1546, had stipulated that King Henry should remain in possession of Boulogne for eight years, i.e. until 1554, and that then, by paying the two million, the King of France would have discharged all other debts, including what King Henry might have spent on fortifying Boulogne.
The last treaty, made with King Edward, anticipated upon the date of the restitution of Boulogne by four years, the French then paying 400,000 crowns; but it had been specified that this payment was in respect of fortifications, artillery, munitions, supplies, etc., and not of the debt of two million, of which no mention whatever had been made.
On the contrary, the treaty had reserved all other claims the parties might have, one against the other.
The French had made answer that, by the treaty of perpetual amity, each one of the princes had agreed not to contract any alliance to the detriment of the other party, or to make war on him, and that when King Henry did make war, in alliance with the Emperor, on King Francis, he forfeited his rights. Likewise, when King Edward, after his father's death, made war on France, he lost his rights under the last treaty concluded by his father; and the Queen, our mistress, had also lost any rights she might otherwise have derived from any of the earlier treaties, by making war on the King of France last year.
The English had replied that the treaty of perpetual peace stated that nothing derogatory to the Treaty of Moore was to result from any violation of the treaty of perpetual peace, or by going to war, or by any treaty that might be concluded; and that it was the Treaty of Moore which dealt with the two million crowns. Also, the King of France had given cause for the war of 1543, as he had refused to pay what he owed, although called upon to do so. When King Edward went to war, the Scots had attacked him, and he was entitled to defend himself. The King of France ought not to have attacked him, considering what had been agreed by the last treaty, by which England had undertaken not to make war on Scotland unless attacked, in which case the King of England might retaliate and France would not go to the Scots' assistance. By way of proving that the war had been begun by the Scots, Ambassador Wotton recalled that, before England had marched against Scotland, he had requested the French to make reparation for the Scots' attacks on England. In this last war, the Queen of England had complied with her mutual-assistance obligations towards the Low Countries under treaties which had been reserved by the treaty we concluded at Crépy, by that made by the late King Henry after the taking of Boulogne, and also by that concluded by the late King Edward. The French could not pretend to ignore this, or maintain that the Queen had acted in violation of the treaties, or had forfeited her rights under them, to say nothing of the special causes the French had given to her, which were notorious. And the French had only repeated that hostilities in all these cases had been started by the English, wherefore they had lost their rights under the treaties.
The third point made by the English was that concerning the pensions, which they claimed as due, together with the arrears, under the treaties, these pensions standing for the right they had always had to the crown of France. But the French had merely given the same reply as to the foregoing point, namely that the English had started the war and had thereby forfeited their treaty rights. And this was all that had occurred to-day at the meeting called to examine the treaties.
Upon this, the Cardinal (of Lorraine) had made a long speech, intended as a justification of the French case, but containing nothing new. His conclusion was that we ought to devise some expedient. In the case of Boulogne, such an expedient had been found by leaving the place temporarily in the hands of the English. A similar course might be followed with Calais, until the rights of the two sides should be gone into before impartial judges.
In reply, it was pointed out to him that the case of Boulogne was not similar.
The English had their pledge for the two million in hand, as they held Boulogne.
But in the present case the French owed the two million and the pensions as well; and still they wished to keep the pledge. They might remember that they had opened negotiations by asking that we should either demonstrate that we were right, or give up what was being claimed. There was no need for judges here, the treaties themselves being so clear, and we had not wished to call in the English, in order that the French might speak to us more openly. All we wanted was to obtain a reasonable degree of satisfaction for the English, but we could not accept anything less. As things now stood, we could not negotiate without their taking part. We repeated what we had said to the French once before, when they had taken exception to the fact that we had not asked for help from England early in the war, when King Edward was alive, or even from the present Queen until after the marriage had taken place, and that then it had not been in virtue of the treaties. We would tell them that we had refrained from so doing, largely out of fear lest, when the time for negotiations arrived, we should be hampered thereby in our efforts to settle matters, if the English came in on our side, and not at all because the English had not been under an obligation to assist us from the very beginning. We had only asked the English to enter the war when, after the conference at Marcq and the rupture of the truce, we began to despair of reaching an agreement with the French and decided to avail ourselves of any help that might be forthcoming. We asked the French to consider our position and realise that we could not part company with the English or fail them in any way. If the French were as desirous of an agreement as they had often protested, they might open up some way by which we could extricate ourselves with honour from the difficulty, instead of insisting on keeping Calais and refusing to pay the debt and pensions, in which they were led rather by will than by reason. They could imagine what a name your Majesty would earn if you were to abandon the English, at a time when, in addition to the ancient obligations between them and ourselves, you had married the Queen and had become, with her, sovereign of England. If they really wished to be our friends, they must consider your Majesty's reputation; and we begged them to give further thought to the matter.
The French then rose, and the Cardinal and Constable came up to us, the Duke of Alva and Count Mélito, urging us to find some way, as both they and the English were swayed by passion, and although your Majesty was also concerned in the matter, you could not feel it as deeply as they did. We tried our best to induce them to own that they were in the wrong, and went so far as to say that we were almost sorry that the English case was such a good one, and that they (the French) had not more right on their side, for if they had we would have been able to do more for them. But they saw how things stood, and could imagine with what a countenance your Majesty could return to England if they refused all satisfaction to the English, who had made so good a case.
The French still pressing us to look for some way, I, the Duke of Alva, finally told them that, speaking as Duke of Alva and their personal friend, and not as a minister, as I might afterwards be disavowed by your Majesty, I would say that it seemed to me very difficult to find any way unless (and even so it would go hard with the English, as they must recognise) a judge were appealed to to settle the dispute, and to do it quickly, that is in one or two years. This judge might be the Pope or the Emperor, or the Venetians, or the Electors. In the meantime, the object of the dispute would have to be held sequestrated, in the hands either of some third party or of your Majesty (this being what we were aiming at), and we thought that, considering your honour and reputation, this point could not be met otherwise than by your Majesty's holding Calais, as sequestrated.
But they criticised this idea, saying that your Majesty was the Queen's husband.
We said they might be sure that, although a husband, your Majesty would keep any promise you made, and indeed, if necessary, would leave them a town, one of those they were occupying, as a pledge. We were moved to make this offer by the consideration that, as there has been talk of demolishing Marienbourg as against Thérouanne, and as considering the position of the place and the fortifications that have been built against it, no great harm would be done by leaving it in their hands for some short time, in order that we might be able to negotiate this Calais matter to your Majesty's good name. Then, the French argued about judges, saying that they would all be partial to our side, especially the Emperor and the Electors, among whom we had partisans. We rejoined that we were sure that, if the case came before the Emperor, he would act like the honourable prince he was. As for the Electors, the French also had a party among them, and perhaps a bigger one than ours, and we ourselves would regard it as dangerous to have them as judges. Finally, the French said they saw no judge who would be acceptable to both sides. At that, we at once said we saw that what they had said about holding the place and submitting the case to judges was intended to abuse the English, for they themselves confessed that no suitable judge could be found. In order to elude this argument, they said they would agree to anything, provided the place remained in their hands. We answered that we would adopt any course they proposed, if it were consonant with your Majesty's reputation and honour, and permitted you to go back to England without shame. They then said they would think it over, and we might do the same. With that, our to-day's meeting came to an end. We shall see what they have to say to-morrow at mass, if we meet them.
We do not wish to omit to report one thing to your Majesty: the day before yesterday, I, the Prince of Orange, was conversing in a familiar way, in the evening, with the Cardinal of Lorraine and the Duchess, the Cardinal insisting that Calais could not be given up without discredit and arousing great resentment among their people.
When I pointed out that your Majesty had certain obligations, and the English had right on their side, the Cardinal remarked, smilingly, that there was also the question of his own reputation and that of his brother (the Duke of Guise); for the King, their master, had given them a house in Calais, on the façade of which they had put up their arms, smartly gilt; also, the Parliament of Paris had already registered their conquest, and their arms had been placed as a sign of victory in the palace and elsewhere in Paris. We fear that this private consideration may weigh more with them than reason.
On leaving the meeting, I, the Duke of Alva, sent for the Bishop of Ely and told him what we had done in our attempt to make the French see reason, but that they had remained obdurate, and refused to say more than the English themselves had heard yesterday morning. However, we would continue to press them, and your Majesty would not abandon the English. The Bishop said he was certain of this; indeed, your Majesty had assured them of it when they had informed you that the Queen was so dangerously ill that they feared for her life. Therefore they must trust that, now that God had been pleased to restore her to health, your Majesty would not fail to be a good husband, and would fulfil your obligations under the perpetual alliance, to the letter. He added that, if Calais were to be kept by the French, neither he nor his colleagues could return to England, for they would certainly be stoned, and dishonoured for ever. As for him, rather than suffer this shame, he would prefer to be brought back in his winding-sheet.
P.S. Sire: We have held this letter back until to-day, in order to see whether, as we hoped, the French would say something further to us at mass about Calais.
When we met, the first subject mentioned was the suspension of arms. As the time concerted on the first occasion has nearly elapsed, and there seemed to be no harm in agreeing to prolong, we gave our consent, although we had not yet had a reply from your Majesty. The suspension is being drawn up in the same form as before.
We beg your Majesty to give it your approval. If you decide not to do so, means can easily be found of ending it.
When this matter had been settled, the Cardinal asked the Constable to walk with me, the Duke of Alva, and meanwhile he and Marshal St. André conversed with us, the Prince of Orange and the Bishop of Arras. We hoped that the Constable would say something, as he had been referred to on this point. But his lengthy discourse merely confirmed that his master was determined to keep Calais, on which condition he would be accommodating about everything else. I used the arguments that seemed most apt to prove that the French were in the wrong, and said that your Majesty would never agree, and that no good servant of yours would advise you to do so. I begged him to give further thought to it, and he asked me the same. That was all; and we greatly fear that the Guises' ambition will prevail. May it please your Majesty to give us your instructions; for we see that the French will not negotiate further without this point being settled. We fear that, if we are easy on this, they will take back some of the concessions they had made on other matters.
Draft. French.
Besançon, C.G.34.
Printed by Weiss, Vol. V.
489. The Peace Commissioners to Philip
Cercamp, 27 October Your Majesty will see by our other letter how things stand here, and what the French attitude is towards the English. The object of this letter (which we beg your Majesty not to allow to pass through many hands, as the Constable spoke in confidence and might suffer for it) is to tell you that I, the Duke of Alva, asked him in the course of our talk to-day to tell me in confidence, as one man of honour to another, how he thought we might advise your Majesty in the execution of our duty. He answered that as he was a servant of the other side, he could not speak; but if he were in another place he would tell his master what he thought. I observed that the great reputation he enjoyed was not usurped, and that I saw that if there were any way in which we could act in this matter, he would have advised me. I greatly regretted that we should miss such an opportunity for serving God and Christendom, and all because of the Guises' thirst for glory; and I asked him if it would be well that he should go to the King, his master, to try to convince him, for otherwise the negotiations bade fair to break down. But he owned to me that his master's mind was made up. He would not dare to try to persuade him.
The place where persuasion was needed was here. He confessed that he knew very well that there were some little appetites, felt by some people; but there was nothing to be done about it now, and without keeping Calais his master would agree to nothing.
So we must think again.
Although we have already given your Majesty our views on this point, our duty impels us once more to emphasise that the English are in the right, and that the French are doing them great wrong by founding their case on the fact that the English made war on them out of regard for their alliance with your Majesty and the perpetual confederation which binds them to the Low Countries. We do not see how your Majesty could make peace with the French without incurring shame and reproach, unless the French will give Calais back or at least agree to hand it over to your Majesty, sequestrated. We do not see how, otherwise, your Majesty could show yourself in England.
Not only would the English be estranged; but they would be easily won over to the French, against you and the Low Countries. It is clear that if the French kept Calais, fortified as the place is, the Low Countries would be in a perilous position, as they also have Scotland in hand, and would easily make themselves lords of England, too; and this might even happen during the lifetime of the Queen. They would conspire against her and her realm, profiting by their improved opportunities for so doing to persuade the English that your Majesty had abandoned them. Moreover, you must consider the obligations imposed upon you by the alliance and treaty you have with them, and that they lost Calais because they came out on your Majesty's side, at your request. It is to be feared that other of your Majesty's allies may grow restive, and yet others may hesitate to join you, lest they also be abandoned in similar circumstances.
We also bear in mind that although your Majesty's affairs are in the way we know of, your enemies are no better off. Indeed the Constable and several Frenchmen own that their plight is even worse. If your Majesty, pressed by this emergency, were to take certain action, you might afterwards regret it, when the hour of need was past, and blame us if we did not set these considerations before you.
In view of the foregoing, we are of opinion, subject to correction, that your Majesty might instruct us to withdraw if the French insist on their present demands, and leave the negotiation as it is, telling them by your orders that when they have found means to satisfy the English you will send us or other envoys back to meet any the King of France may depute. Perhaps the French, when they see you resolute, may talk a different language. In any case, winter will prevent operations, and there will be four or five months during which the French may realise how they stand, and become more reasonable. Thus, your Majesty will confer a great obligation upon the English, and show them that you refrained for their sake from settling with the French, although you were in agreement on all other issues. The realm of England, war-weary as it is, may even urge your Majesty to make peace. And you will then be able to do it, and thus gain greatly in reputation in their eyes. We also think it would be well to negotiate the Constable's ransom as soon as we leave this place, so that he may return to France, regain his credit there and withstand the young men who are looking for trouble, gradually winning the King over by prudent arguments to a course such as the welfare of Christendom demands. He (the Constable) has shown he has this at heart; and it certainly is his interest, at his age, (fn. 13) to establish his house and settle his difficulties.
Your Majesty may see fit to seek the opinion of other persons on our arguments, in order the better to arrive at a decision.
Draft. French.
Besançon, C.G.34.
Printed by Weiss, Vol. V.
490. The Peace Commissioners to Philip
Cercamp, 27 October Sire: After the dispatch accompanying this one was ready, we received your Majesty's letter written yesterday. We will now answer the three points contained in it.
First, as to the suspension of arms, your Majesty will see that we agreed to it this very morning, as time was passing, we had no reply from you, and the French were pressing us. We also considered that the safe-conduct we had from the King of France was to return from here to camp, and that camp had since been raised, so that we had no assurance of being able to get back to Arras, unless by means of this new suspension which, with respect, is even shorter than the 12 or 15 days suspension your Majesty allows us to conclude, since you can end it whenever you please by recalling us. As it is of indeterminate duration, it would seem that the enemy can build less upon it than he might if it were for a stated period. Now, the French cannot be sure of what you may do, and will be at a loss as to their own plans. We therefore beg your Majesty to give your assent to what we have done.
(Second), as for a dowry for the daughter of France in case she marries our Prince, we do not see how we can be guided by precedent. The cases are dissimilar. We understand that in the past, the dowries of the daughters of France have only been 100,000 crowns or at the most 200,000. The late Queen's (fn. 14) was 200,000 crowns, and the Queen Dowager of Hungary's the same, while the Portuguese princesses have had from 400,000 to as much as 800,000 crowns. You have seen that the French are offering 300,000 crowns to the Duke of Savoy with the King's sister, as well as an allowance for life assigned on the Duchy of Berri. As for asking for Calais as dowry, we would thereby be prejudicing the English claim to the place, and indirectly owning that it belonged to the French. And if no children came of the match, they would want it back, and the English would lose it unless there were a special stipulation that Calais should remain theirs and that, if the dowry had to be returned, the place should be valued at a certain sum. True, the restitution of Calais might be asked for in connexion with this marriage, and in consideration of it you might take the daughter of France for your son without dowry. But, we know not whether because they feared this or for some other reason, the French said from the outset that they would not give their daughter without a dowry, but would treat her as was suitable in the case of the beloved child of so great a King. However, if the Calais question can be settled by (such) expedients, we will make use of this one, as your Majesty commands, as seems most advisable in the circumstances.
Third, we will ask the English to report as soon as possible on what has happened here, and will exactly follow your Majesty's instructions. But, if the negotiation is to proceed, it will be necessary to expedite the Queen's reply, either by writing to Don Alonso, (fn. 15) if he is able to handle the matter, or by some other means, for she will not be able to answer by Count Feria, unless he makes haste.
Draft. French.
Besançon, C.G.34.
Printed by Weiss, Vol. V.
491. The Peace Commissioners to Philip
Cercamp, 28 October Sire: This will accompany the instrument of suspension of arms, the conditions of which we have reported to your Majesty. We beg you to have it published at once, as the time is so short, in order that unfortunate happenings may not occur on the frontier which it might afterwards be difficult to remedy, and to have it proclaimed that it is to hold until further notice, so that if these negotiations are broken off (which God forbid!), six days' notice may be given (before resumption of hostilities).
We have been able to get nothing more out of the French than what your Majesty has already heard. Negotiations are at a standstill, the French refusing to proceed until the Calais matter is settled. We are waiting for them to make an offer capable of safeguarding your Majesty's reputation, and they are waiting for us to propose something that would enable them to keep Calais, which we do not see how it would be possible to reconcile with your good name. We shall see whether they say anything to one of us to-day, and shall try to find an opening which we can use to induce them to give up the place to the English, in which case your Majesty would consider as paid the dowry to be given to their daughter on her marriage to our Prince.
We wish to inform your Majesty that to-day the Earl of Arundel, the Bishop of Ely and Wotton called upon us under cover of finding out how things were going.
We gave them a full account. We also urged them, following your Majesty's instructions, to report home what had occurred about Calais and how they and we had tried to make the French see reason. In confidence, we showed them the draft of our yesterday's long letter to you. They were pleased with it, thanked us warmly for the efforts we had made in their cause, by your Majesty's orders, and wished to send a copy to the Queen. We excused ourselves by saying that your Majesty would decide what to do with the letter, and that it was not customary to allow such papers to pass through many hands; but that we would acquaint you with their desire, and that you would perhaps either send it to the Queen or give it to Count Feria, who was going to visit her, so that he might read it to her. From the way these Lords took it, we think it could do no harm for the Queen to see it and to have it afterwards returned to your Majesty, as it ought not to be kept by the English. In order that this may be done promptly, if it please your Majesty, we are sending you a copy of the text as read to the English, leaving out the passages that were not intended for them.
They then told us the chief reason that brought them. They had seen how these negotiations were going and how obstinate were the French. We knew that their instructions forbade them to agree to Calais remaining in French hands, and that if there was a refusal to give it up, they did not see what use there could be in their remaining here longer; indeed they thought it would be preferable that your Majesty should give them leave to return to England, report in full and make known the favour you had shown them. If they only wrote about it the letter would make far less impression than their spoken account. It was particularly urgent that they should go now, because Parliament was meeting on November 3 or 4, and they on no account wished to exceed the instructions they had been given. Lord Arundel told us plainly that he would not be willing to act as minister in negotiations as a result of which Calais would be kept by the French, for he would fear the hatred the people of England would bear him and his children. They were all agreed not to give their assent to it, nor could the Queen and Council do it unless there were a decision of Parliament.
Thus, if the Calais question were referred to Parliament, they would be more useful there than here, given the position taken up by the French. We told them we would inform your Majesty in order to learn your pleasure, and that meanwhile we would continue to feel our way with the French, trying to find some means of inducing them to consider a more acceptable basis for further negotiation. We would keep them informed, and would confer with them as to how to proceed.
We fear that the Queen's illness may cause the meeting of Parliament to be deferred.
If any measure connected with these negotiations has to be introduced, it would seem advisable, subject to correction, to write to England that the meeting is not to be put off; but this depends upon the decision your Majesty decides to take on what we wrote to you yesterday.
Draft. French.
Besançon, C.G.34.
Printed by Weiss, Vol. V.
492. The Peace Commissioners to Philip
Cercamp, 30 October Yesterday we received your Majesty's letter of 28 October (fn. 16); and we humbly thank you for having given your approval to the suspension of arms as we concluded it. . . . . .
We have learnt from your Majesty's letter your intention to keep this negotiation alive, and as regards Calais. Since yesterday evening we have been looking for an opportunity to meet one of the Frenchmen, being all primed, including the Duchess, to find out what we could from them, and, if an opportunity offered, broach the idea of accepting their daughter without a dowry on condition Calais is given back. However, we have no great hope that they will agree, considering what the Cardinal has said to the Duchess and others to the effect that they had written to the King about Calais, and that as it had been suggested that he and his brother, for private reasons, had been the obstacle to an agreement on Calais, he himself had not wished to write, but had left that task to the Constable and Marshal St. André. This made it fairly clear that they had written that Calais ought not to be given up, and that their opinion would not make the King change his mind. As they received the King's reply yesterday, they held a meeting and remained in conference until ten o'clock; so there was no opportunity to meet them. They have looked cold and indifferent these last two days, without any of the warmth with which they previously approached our negotiations.
We know not the cause of this, but we see that they are trying thus to gain an advantage over us. As we could not meet them this morning, we repaired to the Constable's quarters immediately after dinner, ostensibly to take leave of his lady, who was just leaving for Doullens and thence to her home. And the French have started a rumour among their people that as nothing is being achieved, the rest (of the French delegation) will soon follow.
I, the Duke of Alva, drew the Constable aside in his chamber, pointed out that we were doing nothing and that it would be a pity if our undertaking failed, the success of which would be of such profit to Christendom. I knew that they had received letters from the King. If these letters contained any point that might be used in our negotiations, it would be well to bring it out. He replied that what had come was an order to insist upon keeping Calais. I then remarked that this was altogether too dry and curt, and that in order not to waste time we ought to examine other points, and meanwhile to think whether there might not be some way of settling the Calais matter.
He at once offered to call on the Cardinal in his quarters and make this proposal.
Afterwards, we might meet in the Duchess's apartments. While we were conferring together and waiting to be called to the meeting, the Bishop of Ely and Wotton came to see us on behalf of all three, Lord Arundel, troubled with a cold, having excused himself. They wished to know what had happened and to tell us that it irked them to stay here, repeating what they had said the other day about being more useful in England than in this place.
We told them what there was to report since yesterday morning, making it clear that we (and the French) were agreed on all other points, but that the French were inflexible about Calais, which was preventing peace from being concluded, as your Majesty did not wish to abandon the English or be less solicitous about their affairs than about your own. As to their wish to return to England, we had written to you on the subject yesterday, and were awaiting your reply, with which we would acquaint them immediately we received it, as well as all other news of the negotiations; and we would do all we could to mollify the French. The English shall have it impressed upon them by us that their affair is the only thing that is holding up the conclusion of peace, so that either by letters or in person, they may take the requisite line in England to bring about an accommodating frame of mind, favourable to an understanding.
On leaving them, we went to the meeting, where the Constable began by saying that I, the Duke of Alva, had asked for a meeting in order to make a proposal about Calais.
We put him right on this point, excusing him on the ground that he did not understand Spanish very well; for what I (Alva) had said to him was that I had come to him to see whether there might not be some way of dealing with the Calais difficulty, but that when I heard from him that there was none, I had proposed that we should take up other points, and meanwhile give further thought to the Calais matter. To this, they replied that it came to the same thing. The Cardinal then suddenly spoke, declaring that they had done all they could to persuade their King, but as far as they could see his mind was made up to agree to nothing that would deprive him of the possession of Calais. Provided he kept it, at least for some time until the claims of the two adversaries had been heard before a competent judge, he would gladly agree to everything else. As for dealing with other matters, and leaving Calais for the end, they did not like the idea, not that they were afraid of producing their arguments, but because they understood from us that unless the English received satisfaction about Calais we had no intention of closing with the French. Thus it would be a waste of time to talk about other questions, and indeed actually harmful to define their attitude on anything else while Calais remained unsettled. We answered that there would be no prejudice, as no single point would be concluded until everything was settled, but that we might thus gain time. They then wished to confer together. When they had done so, they told us that although they were clear as to a good part of the points at issue, they still needed instructions on some, wherefore they wished to write to their master before going further, and that meanwhile we might consult with the English and write to your Majesty. Thus, in a couple of days, we might meet again and settle Calais and everything else together, for they would come with instructions enabling them to do so. However, they still stuck to it that they would not compromise on Calais, which must be theirs.
On hearing this, we also withdrew for a moment, and then went back to our places and told them that we must speak plainly and openly to them, as we had always done.
The English envoys, we must remind them, had come here with precise instructions from which they could not depart. We did not see, given those instructions, how they could agree to anything that left them without Calais. We were here not only because of your Majesty's interest in England, but also to act as middlemen. We had done our best to see how agreement with the English might be achieved, and would try equally hard to persuade your Majesty. But we saw nothing the English could do without first going to your Majesty, and then to the Queen to confer with her and her Council, and perhaps also with Parliament, which had now assembled. Whether they wrote, or one or all of them went, it would take time, and in the interval it would be well that they (the French) should write to their King for such enlightenment as they needed on other points. Thus, when the reply came, time might be saved. When the answer had come from England, that one point alone would remain to be disposed of. In order that they might be clear on everything, we asked them to state their final wishes on both Calais and the pensions, the arrears and the two million crowns, so that we might consider the problem as a whole.
They then rose once more to confer among themselves. Their consultation was a bit long (ung petit longuette), and from the looks on their faces gave rise to some friction among themselves. When they had returned to the table, the Cardinal said he recognised that as the English had precise instructions, they could not exceed them without reference. The French approved of the idea of ascertaining the pleasure of your Majesty and the Queen. We had already heard what they could agree to with regard to Calais. As for the pensions, arrears and the two million, the reply to their questions would show how the matter lay. They would be as reasonable on these points as on the rest. And this was all they would say, press them as we would. Finally, they remarked that these consultations would require time, especially as Parliament had assembled. Your Majesty might need one of us, and their King might have occasion to use one of them. Therefore they thought it would be best for us all to go home, leaving a few persons here so that it might not appear that there had been a break.
When the English had been persuaded to come back, and they (the French) had their instructions on certain doubtful points, these might be cleared up, and Calais as well.
We then rose once more to confer among ourselves. It seemed to us that what we had said to them about finding means had made them more insolent and difficult. Also, from what their people said, they are bent on going away and not returning until they get their way on the Calais question. As they see how mild we are, they hope to obtain all they desire. Moreover, when they talk of leaving a few persons here, we believe they mean persons who would not be qualified to negotiate, and that their intention is merely to make the suspension of arms last. We decided not to give them a firm answer on that point, in order to keep the negotiation in being and to give your Majesty time to signify your pleasure to us. Therefore, when we joined them, we said that as they were proposing something new, we requested them not to take it in bad part if, before replying, we consulted your Majesty, who was so near that we might perhaps obtain an answer by to-morrow. They agreed, and said that they would perhaps write to their King to-night.
Your Majesty will be pleased to direct us, whether we shall assent to what the French propose or tell them that we have been recalled, and that the meeting is suspended until means have been found of bringing them and the English together, when you will be prepared to send us or others back to meet any whom the King of France may depute. We did not put forward the idea of taking their daughter without a dowry, provided Calais is given back, because they behaved so stiffly that there was no opening for talk about a marriage, or Piedmont, or anything else, until Calais is settled. . . . . .
Draft. French.
Besançon, C.G.34.
Printed by Weiss, Vol. V.
493. The Peace Commissioners to Philip
Cercamp, 30 October In our letter, Sire, we have reported on our negotiations with the French, Here, we will reply to certain points raised by a letter written in your own hand to me, the Duke of Alva. We have read and discussed it, and we believe that our other letter deals with the rest.
Certainly, considering the need for peace in which your Majesty's affairs stand, we greatly regret that the attitude of the French should prevent us from concluding an honourable peace with them, such as you desire. We see that our gentleness has only made them more insolent, wherefore we have written what you will have seen. They are determined to keep Calais. The English have the instructions your Majesty knows of; and if you decided to let them be deprived of Calais you would lose heavily in reputation. Therefore, we do not think that you can appear to entertain the idea, unless it were to come from England. As for what is to be put up to the Queen, her Council and Parliament, we think it might be pointed out how you have striven for them here, Calais being the only point on which there has been no agreement, and that they might be exhorted to consider what means they may have of financing the war, as your Majesty is doing on your side. Thus, without persuasion from your Majesty, they may make up their minds to do what is required, in a sense which might indirectly be suggested to them, without their realising where it comes from. They might be told that your Majesty has instructed us, either after having made the proposal as to taking their daughter without a dowry or without making it, as it can serve no useful purpose, and withdraw, leaving the negotiation interrupted, in order that the French may see that you will not allow yourself to be led down the road they wished to make you take.
It grieves us to have come to this, especially as your Majesty's finances are in the state we know of. But it seems that the French are forcing you to take this decision. It would be very shameful, given the English ambassadors' instructions and your obligations towards them, if your Majesty were to abandon them, and by your own action deprive them of Calais. It would also show the French in what straits you were: they would back out of various positions where they had given us some hope, and would refuse so disadvantageous a bargain in the Piedmont affair. We also do not think, subject to correction, that you should suggest the destruction of Calais and filling in of the port, especially as we see that the French would not agree. The work they are doing on the fortifications there makes this clear enough. We do not believe anything the Duchess may try with the Cardinal will avail; for he knows that he holds the King's will in his hand. We have spoken in such a way, in familiar conversation, that they all realise we impute their unyielding attitude over Calais to the private ambition of the Cardinal and his brother. Moreover, we fear that all this, and the Duchess's remarks about a marriage between the Duke of Savoy and her daughter, will have done no good, but rather have harmed the Duchess and her son, the Duke.
As for a truce, we do not consider, subject to correction, that it would be advantageous unless it meant the return of occupied places, for we know the French would only use it to intrigue, and to push ahead from the places they have already occupied. But if there were restitution, we would not only approve of their keeping Calais and we the Vermandois, (fn. 17) but of their keeping the other places in Luxemburg if they surrendered Thiensville. But as we are sure they will not consent, we think it better not to propose it. As for a mere suspension of arms, we do not know of what use it would be to your Majesty, for the French would have the advantage, knowing that your Majesty would keep your promise and would be certain of nothing of the sort on their part, so that we would have to keep up as many troops as for a defensive war, and your affairs would experience no relief. As for raising money in the Low Countries, on which point your Majesty wished to have our opinion (the Prince of Orange's and the Bishop of Arras') we have all discussed it, and see no better way than to ask the Estates to reach a decision on the proposals made to them, so that they may give their obligations, which will be difficult to obtain until the aid is granted. But this is so difficult a matter that we think your Majesty must work at it yourself, using your own personal authority. It seems that the best course would be, as soon as the ministers have separated, as the French suggest, or your Majesty has given us other instructions, for your Majesty to repair to winter quarters farther away from the border, and that there, with your advisers and especially those who deal with finance, you should explore all possible means of finding money, no more and no less than if next year we had to campaign again. If God wills that we reach an agreement by the end of this winter, we shall be able to make good use of the money for your Majesty's dominions, and if not, we shall need it for the war.
Draft. French.
Basançon, C.G.34.
Printed by Weiss, Vol. V.
494. The Bishop of Arras to Viglius de Zwichem (Extract)
Cercamp, 30 October . . . . . . . You will have seen our letters how hard and unreasonable are the French, and that their chief argument shows they are aiming at making us forfeit the friendship of the English. If we acted as they wish, our prince (King) would be shamed in the eyes of the whole world, and I would beg that another than I should have a hand in it, for I know that that which our present plight might make us accept would be condemned by everyone later, and especially by his Majesty himself, even if he ordered us thus to proceed, now that he is pressed by necessity. And I will tell you truly that I think it would be better to speak plainly (parler sec) to the French about Calais, and to withdraw if they refuse a reasonable settlement, rather than to temporise with them. If they need to make peace now, their need will be still greater by spring. While winter prevents operations, they will champ the bit, and we will gain great credit with the English and everyone else, seeing what we do for our allies. And if we press the English to prepare (for war) next year, I believe they are so war-weary that they would urge us to settle, and suggest means which we, of our own accord, could not recommend to them without incurring dishonour. If the French do not feel the pinch, I do not think they will agree to any terms which are not advantageous to them and discreditable to us. And there is one thing I am very much afraid of, I who know them, which is that if they see us waver, they will back out of things which they had led us to hope for. And if we permit ourselves to go in for discreditable transactions, we will soon find out that we shall not rid ourselves of our troubles by such means.
As we are on this subject, it is very urgent that the marquis, (fn. 18) or whoever is sent by the King to approach the Estates, should make haste, and that our master himself should take a leading part and work at it himself. Even so, we shall be hard put to it to find what is needed, especially as the matter has to pass through the hands of those to whom it has been entrusted.
I am incredibly sorry that your health has not improved, but hope that the fine weather we have had these last two days will give you some relief. If we achieve anything, of which to tell you the truth I have little hope, unless the French change their minds, I trust that your state of health will permit you to come, or that Councillor Tisnacq may do so. . . . . .
Draft. French.
Besançon, C.G.34.
Printed by Weiss, Vol. V.


  • 1. The beginning of this draft has been lost.
  • 2. King John II of France, taken prisoner at the battle of Poitiers, 19 September, 1356.
  • 3. The Treaty of Brétigny, concluded on 8 May, 1360, between Charles, Dauphin of France, and Edward III.
  • 4. A celebrated jewel which the Emperor had left in Henry VIII's hands as surety for a debt of 50,000 crowns.
  • 5. 30 August, 1530.
  • 6. In 1546.
  • 7. In 1550.
  • 8. i.e Francis (later Francis II) and Mary, Queen of Scots.
  • 9. Sebastien de l'Aubepine, Abbot of Basse-Fontaine and Bishop successively of Vannes and Limoges.
  • 10. Concluded on 18 August, 1527, at Abbeville, by Cardinal Wolsey, acting in the name of Henry VIII.
  • 11. Since 1347.
  • 12. The Black Prince.
  • 13. Anne de Montmorency was 65 at this time.
  • 14. Eleanor of Austria, second wife of Francis I.
  • 15. This is certainly Don Alonso de Córdoba, who was in England at this time (pp. 401, 404), and not Don Alonso de Osorio, as Weiss suggests.
  • 16. This letter has not been found.
  • 17. A small pays, or region, of which St. Quentin was the chief town.
  • 18. The Marquis of Berghes (?) (Weiss).