Spain: April 1523

Pages 537-546

Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 2, 1509-1525. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1866.

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April 1523

6 April.
M. Re. Ac. d. Hist. Salazar. A. 27. f. 266.
539. Cardinal Of Volterra to Pietro Soderini, his Nephew, in France, and to Tomasio Soderini, his Nephew, in Venice.
This document consists of extracts from intercepted letters of the Cardinal of Volterra to his nephews. In them the Cardinal exhorts the French to invade Italy very soon, and recommends to them Francesco Imperatore, a Sicilian nobleman from Palermo.
Indorsed : "Extracts from the ciphered letters of the Cardinal of Volterra which were intercepted."
Italian. pp. 3.
11 April.
M. Re. Ac. d. Hist. Salazar. A. 27. ff. 327-343.
540. The Duke Of Sessa, Imperial Ambassador in Rome, to the Emperor.
Sent him his last letter on the 4th of last month.
The Marshal arrived on the 17th of March. Answers in this letter all the despatches he has hitherto received. Thanks him for the good opinion he has of him.
The Pope was quite perplexed by his letters, and did not know what to do. Gave his Holiness the memoir of which a copy is enclosed. The Pope kept it much longer than might have been expected without declaring himself. Whilst the Pope was in this state of indecision the Marshal arrived. Immediately after the arrival of the Marshal, the Pope gave his answer to every article of the memoir. Sends the answer of the Pope to him.
The Pope still has confidence in the King of France, and is afraid to conclude the alliance (with the Emperor and the King of England), because he thinks he would be obliged to spend money in consequence of it. To lose money is what the Pope most fears in the world. He would resent the loss of money more deeply than the loss of his states.
Saturday, the 28th of last month, the Pope sent for him and the Marshal. He (the Pope) showed him (the Duke of Sessa) a letter from the King of France in answer to the letter which he (the Pope) had written to the King of France. The King of France states in it that he much regrets the loss of Rhodes, but that he cannot promise any aid in a war with the Turks, as he must employ all his resources in defending the property which belongs to him. The duchy of Milan, he says, is his rightful inheritance, which he could not abandon. A truce would not be attended with any advantages. All the parties which now carry on the war would make no other use of the truce than to render themselves stronger, and to collect more money to carry on the war with greater energy as soon as the truce should come to an end.
The Pope has so entirely lost his head that it is to be hoped he will conclude the alliance (with the Emperor and the King of England).
Went next day, together with the Marshal and the ambassador of the King of England, to see the Pope, who broke out into loud lamentations that he had lost so much time and so much money in sending so many couriers. He (the Duke of Sessa), the Marshal, and the English ambassador tried to console him, and hinted at the conclusion of the alliance. His Holiness, however, said that it was impossible for him to enter the alliance, as he had no money. All persuasions remained without effect. Were afraid that the Pope would die of suffocation if they continued to speak with him on this matter.
The same evening his Holiness sent for the Cardinals, Volterra, Fiesco, Monte, and Colonna, and told them the same things he had said to him, the Marshal, and the ambassador of the King of England. The Pope was, however, even more excited on this occasion. Two days afterwards the cardinals gave their votes. Volterra and Fiesco advised the Pope to remain neutral, and to show favour to no one, as he was the master and lord of all the princes of Christendom. Monte contradicted them, and Colonna proposed openly an alliance with him (the Emperor). Knew immediately every word that had passed between the Pope and the cardinals.
He (the Duke of Sessa), the Marshal, and the ambassador of the King of England returned to the Pope, and urged him to give a definite answer, as they could not wait any longer, being obliged to write to their respective masters. The Pope answered them that he knew that the King of France would not have written him such a letter as he has done had he (the Pope) not exhorted the Venetians to conclude the alliance. He inveighed with great vehemence against him (the Emperor), reproaching him with having neglected to tell the Infante not to create new difficulties in the negotiations with Venice. He was so poor, he said, that it was quite impossible for him to conclude the alliance (with the Emperor and the King of England). The Pope did not reply to what he and the Marshal and the ambassador of the King of England had asked him, but always spoke of things which did not belong to the subject in question. Thinks it is better patiently to bear these puerilities of the Pope than to excite him still more. When, however, his Holiness pretended that he (the Emperor) had not power to do any harm to the King of France, he (the Duke of Sessa) could not refrain from observing that every one of the kingdoms which he (the Emperor) held now united under him was strong enough to carry on a successful war with France, as has been often the case before the different crowns were placed on his (the Emperor's) head. Is of opinion that the Pope will not overcome his repugnance to spend money, nor conclude the alliance, until he is threatened by the danger of losing his states, and even Rome.
Ferrara, Modena, Reggio, &c.
Enkenvöert thanks him (the Emperor) for the bishopric of Tortosa. The other servants of the Pope knew already what he (the Emperor) had ordered with respect to the favours they asked. Thought it best to tell the Pope that he (the Emperor) intended to give pensions and church preferment to some of his servants, in order to diminish the expenses of the Pope, as well as to reward his servants for the services they had rendered when they were in Spain. His Holiness, however, declared that if he knew that any one of his servants accepted as much as a single ducat, he would instantly dismiss him. "Tattle! The Pope will not hear it, but this kind of buying and selling is abundantly carried on in his palace." (fn. 1) Begs him to give money secretly to the first valet de chambre, to Francisco, to Theodoric, and to the confessor of the Pope. Poor Cisterer is dead. He was so staunch an Imperialist, and died so young. Even after he became ill he came clandestinely during night to his house, and went on his way home to see "her".
Comuneros. Medii fructus. Quarta. Cruzada.
The Pope is still much excited by what has been written to him from his (the Emperor's) court. He pretends that he has not pronounced the words of which he is accused, but his excuses are worse than what he said formerly.
The Pope continually finds fault with the Imperial councillors, and does not see what passes at his court. To give him any reasonable explanations produces no effect at all. His Holiness wants to speak, and it is best not to attach any importance to what he says. If he hates a person, his hatred is implacable. The Bishop of Palencia is an example thereof. Has asked the Pope to do what he (the Emperor) wishes, but the Pope did not approve that the pension which the Cardinal of England receives from the see of Palencia should be paid in any other manner.
Pay of the army. Prospero Colonna.
The French secretary is plotting with the Cardinal of Volterra, who has more influence than ever over the Pope.
His negotiations with the republic of Venice promise a good result if the Infante does not disturb them. Alonso Sanchez has written to him (the Duke of Sessa), that the Signory wish to continue with him alone the negotiations which have been carried on by him and the late Hieronymo Adorno together. Fears the Signory wish to amuse Alonso Sanchez until they know whether the French will invade Italy or not. The King of England has written a very good letter to the Signory, and has sent instructions to his ambassador which are much to the purpose. The Pope also does what he can to persuade the Republic to conclude the alliance (with the Emperor and the King of England), which he thinks is beneficial to Italy.
The death of Hieronymo Adorno is a great loss for Genoa. His brother Antoniotto is a good man, but he has not the intellect and the energy of the late Hieronymo.
Naples. Sicily. The Cardinal of Auch is well watched. The Cardinal de Medicis. Juan Manuel. The Marquis of Mantua. Queen of Portugal. Fuentarabia. Castle of Milan. Bishopric of Catania.
The Pope is very well informed of his (the Emperor's) answer to the proposal made by the nuncio to him (the Emperor) with respect to the truce or peace with the King of France. The Marshal showed the Pope, sub sigillo confessionis, his (the Emperor's) power to conclude a truce with the King of France. His Holiness was exceedingly pleased when he saw it. Was afterwards detained two hours by the Pope in private conversation. His Holiness said that the peace would only contribute to make him (the Emperor) still more powerful than he is ; that he (the Pope) has always loved him, and will always love him, &c. The Pope waits for the power of the King of England, and has not abandoned the hope that even the King of France will empower his ambassadors to conclude peace, although he has no other reason for hoping it, except some vague words of the Cardinal of Auch. The King of England has not sent his power to conclude a truce or a peace, but only the copy of the power which he (the Emperor) had sent to England. The English ambassador does not know that he (the Emperor) has sent the original of that power to him (the Duke of Sessa), but the French are perfectly aware of it, as the enclosed letter of the Archbishop of Bari to Lope Hurtado shows.
College of Cardinals. Ostia. Ferrara. The Bishop of Feltre, brother of the Cardinal Campegio, goes as nuncio to Venice. He is a devoted servant of his (the Emperor).
Army. French invasion of Italy. Infante. Siena. Borghese.
The Pope has held consistories of cardinals daily since the news of the loss of Rhodes arrived, but nothing is done. The Greek Bishop of Rhodes. Sicily. Cardinal de Medicis. Cardinal Valle, &c., &c. Church preferment, &c., &c.—Rome, the 11th of April 1523.
The Marshal. Lope Hurtado. Swiss. Theodoric. Cardinal Colonna. Cardinal Campegio.—The 12th of April 1523.
Addressed : "To the most sacred ... King of Spain ..."
Indorsed : "To the King. 1523. Rome. Duke of Sessa. The 12th of April. Answered."
Spanish. Autograph in cipher. Contemporary deciphering. pp. 32.
12 April.
M. Re. Ac. d. Hist. Salazar. A. 27. f. 308.
541. The Duke Of Sessa, Imperial Ambassador in Rome, to the Emperor.
This document in cipher is a duplicate of the preceding despatch.
15 April.
M. Re. Ac. d. Hist. Muñoz. 56. f. 73.
542. The Emperor to the Duke Of Sessa, his Ambassador in Rome.
Has received his letter of the 4th of March, together with a brief and two letters from the Pope and a letter from the College of Cardinals. Has read them with great attention, and has deeply considered all that the nuncio has said to him.
Is extremely sorry that Rhodes has been lost. If he could reconquer it he would gladly shed his own blood. But it is not his fault that Rhodes has not been succoured. If the Pope had granted him the subsidies (fn. 2) which other Popes were in the habit of granting to the Emperors, the Turks would have been repelled, and Christendom would be in no danger. The remedy is difficult now. Has always been inclined to conclude peace or a truce (with the King of France), if the King of England, his beloved uncle and ally, would consent to it. Without the consent of the King of England he cannot even enter into negotiations, much less conclude a treaty of peace or a truce (with the King of France). The Pope begs him to assemble a great army and navy, and not only to defend Italy against the Turks, but also to attack them ; but his Holiness refuses him the means which are necessary for paying so numerous an army and navy as are required in a war with the Turks. The "Grand Turk" is so powerful, and his (the Emperor's) dominions are so exhausted, that the result of a war with the Infidels would be doubtful, even if the Pope were to grant the subsidies he asks of him, and if all the other Christian princes were to aid him. Would, however, in such a case undertake the war, and faithfully fulfil his duties of protector of the Church and temporal chief of the whole of Christendom. (fn. 3)
In order to show the Pope that he is in good earnest, he sends him (the Duke of Sessa) a new power, containing the clauses which his Holiness desires, and authorizes him to conclude the treaty of peace or truce. He is, however, first to confer with the ambassador of the King of England in Rome, and to do nothing without his approval. Writes to the Pope and the College of Cardinals. Has also written to the King of England and asked him, in consideration of the danger to which the whole of Christendom is exposed, to send a similar power to his ambassador in Rome, authorizing him to conclude peace or a truce. Has, nevertheless, exhorted the King of England not to discontinue his preparations for war against France, lest the King of France should profit by the occasion in order to wrest from him or the King of England some provinces, and afterwards make difficulties against concluding peace on reasonable conditions.
Is of opinion that the Pope ought to propose a truce on condition that all parties shall remain until the conclusion of peace in the possession of what they at present hold, and that no more provisions shall be sent to the castles of Milan and Cremona than are necessary for the maintenance of the garrisons until the expiration of the truce.
[Added on the margin :] Wishes that the castles and towns of Fuentarabia, Hesdin, Milan, and Cremona should be delivered into the hands of the Pope. If, however, the King of France should insist that he (the Emperor) should also deliver Tournay into the hands of the Pope, he would prefer that all things should remain in statu quo rather than give up Tournay.
All confederates must be included in the treaty of truce. The Pope ought to be the interpreter of it, and all contracting parties ought to bind themselves to make war with united forces upon any party who should refuse to fulfil his obligations. Wishes that the truce should be concluded at least for three years, or for such a period of time as the King of England would consent to. If the King of England or the other parties to the treaty cannot be persuaded to accept a truce of three years, it must be concluded at least for the whole time of the war with the Turks, and for six months after its termination. It must be stipulated that the truce shall be ipso facto renewed if the Turks afterwards attack Christendom.
Is bound by his treaty with the King of England to pay him the 135,000 gold scudos a year which the King of France was formerly in the habit of paying him. These payments are to continue until the King of England conquers so many provinces from the King of France that the revenues from them shall amount to 135,000 gold scudos or more, or until the King of France concludes peace, and resumes the payment of his pensions to the King of England. In case he (the Emperor) does not fulfil his obligations, he is to incur ecclesiastical censures. It would be very hard for him to continue these payments to the King of England during the truce which the Pope proposes. Besides, he would be obliged to employ smaller forces against the Turks if he were obliged to send such great sums of money to England. Begs, therefore, the Pope to propose to the King of England, as though it came from him only, to renounce the payment of the pensions and the arrears during the whole time of the duration of the truce and until a definite peace is concluded. This proposal, however, is to be made only if the Pope thinks that it would not offend or render suspicious the King of England. Expects that the Pope will begin the negotiations of peace immediately after the conclusion of the truce, and that it will be arranged in the treaty of peace that the pension, and all the arrears occasioned by the suspension of payments during the time of the truce, shall be paid to the King of England, either by the King of France or by him (the Emperor).
It may be that the Pope will not succeed in persuading the King of England to grant the postponement of the pension, or that his Holiness may think that such a proposal cannot be made without offending or rendering the English suspicious, and thereby impeding the conclusion of the truce. In such a case it would be best not to speak with the English about this proposal, but the Pope must, immediately after the conclusion of the truce, declare in a general decree, motu proprio et certa scientia, and in the form of a constitution, without naming him (the Emperor) or any other person, that all the ecclesiastical censures which have been fulminated, or hereafter will be fulminated against any king, prince, or potentate, who has not paid his debts, without distinction as to the manner in which they have been incurred, shall be suspended during the whole time that the war with the Turks lasts, if the debtor takes part in the holy enterprise against the Infidels. The Pope can make use of the pretext that God would be less inclined to favour the holy war if censured or excommunicated princes were to be found in the ranks of the Christian armies.
The Pope must fix the time when the definite peace is to be concluded. He must see that the Swiss promise not to attack any prince of Christendom during the war with the Turks. Begs the Pope to grant the Swiss a tax on the property and revenues of the Church in Switzerland, on condition that they send an auxiliary army against the Infidels, and pay their own troops with the money thus collected.
Begs the Pope to invite all the princes of Christendom to a general conference, where the manner in which the war with the Turks is to be carried on shall be discussed, and the contingent of every prince be fixed. The Pope must publish a general grant through the whole of Christendom of the cruzada, indulgences, remissions, absolutions, and faculties, all in the most ample form. Only those are to enjoy these favours who either serve in person in the war with the Turks, or render other services in this holy enterprise The whole clergy of Christendom ought to be ordered, under commination of ecclesiastical censures, to contribute their part to the means of carrying on the war. Those who possess revenues ought to pay the fourth part of them, and the Mendicant Friars, and others who have no revenues or property, ought to send a certain number of picked and strong friars to serve as soldiers. Being the natural chief of the army, and being resolved to take the field in person, he reserves it to himself to choose the monks who are best adapted for military service, and to decide how strong the army must be, and what measures are to be taken to carry on the war by land and by sea. Before actual hostilities begin he will take a review of the whole Christian army, and give his orders to the different princes and captains.
He (the Duke of Sessa) must not consent that an article be inserted in the treaty of truce according to which the Milanese exiles shall be at liberty to return to the duchy.
He is to confer with the ambassador of the King of England in Rome, and to concert with him the conditions on which the treaty of truce can be concluded. Empowers him to leave it to the Pope to fix the time of the truce, to make or not to make to the King of England the proposals with respect to the pensions, and to ask or not to ask the King of France to deliver into the hands of his Holiness Fuentarabia, Hesdin, and the castles of Milan and Cremona. The English ambassador, however, must be informed of all the steps he takes, and he is to do nothing without his consent. If he wishes to make use of the advice of a lawyer, he can send to Naples for Johan Bartholomeus Gattinara, the brother of the Chancellor.
The Pope has written him another letter in cipher, of which a copy is enclosed. This letter is so rude and so pungent that it is impossible for him to answer it without deeply offending his Holiness. Sends him, therefore, letters of credentials, and authorizes him to give an answer to the Pope by word of mouth. If the Pope does not speak of this letter, he is not to mention it, or to say anything about its contents. If, however, the Pope begins first to speak of this letter, he is to say to him, in the most courteous manner possible, that most probably he has not well understood his (the Emperor's) letters, else he would not have made use of such expressions as "badly digested," &c. Has always been a good son of the Pope and a faithful protector of the Holy See.
Modena and Reggio. The title deeds of Charlemagne and his predecessors seem to be of little importance in this case, as he (the Emperor) has only lately concluded treaties with Pope Leo about Modena and Reggio. If the Pope can prove that the Duke of Milan has injured the states of the Pope, he (the Emperor) will punish him. Bishop of Veruli. Swiss. Cannot understand how an alliance with the Pope could be an obstacle to a general peace of Christendom. The Pope says a treaty of abstinence of hostilities on the Mediterranean would have been a good thing. Thinks it would have been attended with the worst consequences possible.
The Pope is unjust towards Juan Manuel. Knows perfectly well all that has passed between Juan Manuel and the Cardinal Farnese, but can assure him that no money was offered or accepted, and that Juan Manuel did not oppose his election. On the contrary, Juan Manuel recommended his election to the cardinals, in case they should elect an absent cardinal. His Holiness ought not even to speak publicly of pronouncing ecclesiastical censures against a man like Juan Manuel, who belongs to his (the Emperor's) most confidential councillors, &c. Prospero Colonna, &c.—Valladolid, the 15th of April 1523.
Indorsed : "By the King. To the Duke of Sessa."
Spanish. Draft, written by the Chancellor Gattinara. pp. 8. The writing is so close that it would fill more than 20 pages in print.
21 April.
M. Re. Ac. d. Hist. Muñoz. 56. f. 78.
543. The Emperor to the Duke Of Sessa, his Ambassador in Rome.
Has received his letters of the 19th of February and of the 4th of March.
Is satisfied with him. He must try to obtain some money from the Italians. He must gain Theodoric, who is very intimate with the Pope. Cardinal de Medicis. Renzo da Ceri.
The Pope must order a strict investigation into the attempt of the Duke of Camarino to poison him.
The cardinals are not generally the friends of the Pope. The Pope is wrong if he is scandalized by his (the Emperor's) letters, &c.
Has written to the Cardinal of England, and begged him to consent to a transfer of his pension on the see of Palencia to the see of Toledo. As soon as he receives the consent of the Cardinal of England, he will send it to him, with an order to speak once more about it with the Pope.
Valladolid, the 21st of April 1523. Sealed on the 8th of May.
Spanish. Draft. pp. 5.
25 April.
M. Re. Ac. d. Hist. Salazar. A. 27. ff. 424-430.
544. The Duke Of Sessa, Imperial Ambassador in Rome, to the Emperor.
Military orders in Spain. Renzo da Ceri in Venice.
Has written on a former occasion that the Cardinal of Volterra entertained treasonable correspondence with Neapolitan subjects. The agent through whom it was carried on was arrested, confessed, and delivered up the letters of which he was the bearer. The Pope, as soon as he was informed of it, sent for the Cardinal de Medicis, and conferred with him in secret. Is afraid the Pope will not have courage enough to proceed against the Cardinal of Volterra. In such a case he is resolved to tell the Pope that if he permits his cardinals to plan the invasion of his (the Emperor's) dominions, the Emperor will be forced to take vigorous measures against him.
Pay of the army.
Promised the Pope that the Infante would ratify the treaty with the Venetians.
Theodoric, the secretary of the Pope, would be satisfied with a pension of 200 ducats a year, &c.—Rome, the 25th of April 1523.
Addressed : "To the most ... Cœsar ... of Spain, &c., our sovereign Lord."
Indorsed : "To the King. 1523. Rome. Duke of Sessa. The 25th of April. Answered."
Spanish. Autograph in cipher. Contemporary deciphering. pp. 8.
27 April.
M. Re. Ac. d. Hist. Salazar. A. 27. f. 439.
545. The Duke Of Sessa, Imperial Ambassador in Rome, to the Emperor.
The Pope ordered, at 23 o'clock of the present day, the Cardinal of Volterra to be arrested, and conducted to the castle. Two of his servants who are implicated in his treasonable intrigues were arrested at the same time. All was conducted with much propriety, and none but the persons interested in the measure were aware of it.
Archbishop of Bari. Venice, &c.—Rome, the 27th of April 1523.
Indorsed : "To the King. 1523. Rome. Duque de Sessa. The 27th of April. Answered."
Spanish. Autograph. pp. 3.
27 April.
M. Re. Ac. d. Hist. Salazar. 27. f. 441.
546. Lope Hurtado De Mendoza to the Emperor.
The Pope has sent the Cardinal of Volterra to the castle, as a prisoner. Begs him to write a letter of thanks to the Pope, who begins to behave well.
The Cardinal of Santa Croce has asked for the bishopric of Ostia. The Pope has refused it to him, but has deprived the Doctor Agreda of it, and has given it to a brother of Adrian, his camarero, a Fleming, who was a soldier in his (the Emperor's) army.—Rome, the 27th of April 1523.
Addressed : "To ... and Catholic Majesty ... our Lord."
Indorsed : "To the King. 1523. Rome. Lope Hurtado. The 27th of April. Answered."
Spanish. Autograph. p. 1.


  • 1. "Gisme (chisme)! que no llega a sus orejas, y este genero de mercancia se trata en aquel palacio abundantemente."
  • 2. Cruzada. Quarta, &c.
  • 3. "Como verdadero advogado dessa Sancta Silla y cabeça temporal de toda la christianidad .."