Spain: April 1541

Pages 315-319

Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 6 Part 1, 1538-1542. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1890.

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April 1541, 1-30

17 April. 156. The Same to the Emperor.
Imp. Arch.
Rep. P., Fasc.
C. 232, ff. 9–10.
By my last, dated the 27 March, I informed Your Imperial Majesty of this king's journey to Dover. During his stay in that port he dispatched Master Wallop to Guisnes as governor of the town, and resolved also to send thither as many as 2,000 men, pioneers and soldiers, under four captains, each of whom will have besides under his command 50 men; (fn. n1) the pioneers to be employed in the repair of the fortifications and defences of the place, as well as in the construction of four new bulwarks, which the King has ordered to be erected first of all in the neighbourhood of the said Guisnes. The King, moreover, has ordered that the said force of 2,000 men be provided on the spot with engineering tools and arms to defend themselves against any party that should try to impede their work and attack them. As far as I can hear from all sides, the intention of this king for the present is not to push on his defensive works beyond the said town of Guisnes and its castle, providing them with ordnance, ammunition, and every necessary. I hear that in the neighbourhood of that town, and close upon the sea-shore, the King's men are already making haste, and demolishing certain churches and religious houses situated on the sea border, the materials of which they intend carrying to Guisnes, so as to be employed in its new fortifications.
I cannot say whether this affair will be prosecuted with vigour or cool down, for I am told that a Portuguese engineer, whom the King had sent thither to report and direct the works, returned yesterday from those parts, affirming in the most positive manner, as I have been told by one who was present when he verbally reported to the King, that most certainly it would be impossible to fortify Guisnes in an efficient manner, owing to two hillocks commanding the avenues and all the streets of that town. And I have been told by my informer that when the King heard the engineer's report, he and the courtiers round him were much disgusted and angry, and that the King abused the engineer and called him a fool and an ass, saying that he did not understand his profession. Thus did the King receive the report of his engineer, which, however, must have come very much out of season, considering that the four captains above-mentioned and their men had already left for Guisnes.
Although the military preparations to which I have alluded were resolved upon during this king's last stay in Dover, yet something about them must have transpired, for king Francis wrote some time ago to his ambassador here to ask this King what he meant by sending a body of men across the Channel. The French ambassador, as it appears, did as he was bid, and the King said to him: "I may just as well ask from you in turn what your master means by sending men to Ardres."
Two days after that, on the King's return to Greenwich, the French ambassador again spoke to the King on the subject, and the latter replied that as all princes were fast fortifying their own frontier towns, he did not see why he should not do the same, and gave no further explanation of his orders. And I have been told that since then the French ambassador has received almost daily couriers from his master, and that on the 12 h of April (fn. n2) he himself went to Court. Having asked him what he went thither for he told me that he had gone for no other purpose than to witness the solemn festivals on that day; but, as I gather from his own words to the Venetian secretary and others, he must have gone to Greenwich chiefly for the purpose of obtaining reliable information respecting the expeditionary force sent to Guisnes, and perhaps also to announce to the King, as I find he actually did, that the king of the Romans was in Hungary in full retreat for want of money and provisions, and that some Turkish cavalry had even overrun part of his territory, sacking and burning some towns and villages. Also that there was no sign or hope of any thing being settled or concluded at the diet of Reynesbourg (Regensburgh), which the duke of Saxony had not deigned to attend, no more than several other German princes. The King answered that as far as he could see, he himself was better informed by his ambassadors in Germany than his master, the king of France, since, according to the reports he had received from that country, he held it as certain that an agreement between the Catholics and Protestants would shortly be made, notwithstanding the duke of Saxony's absence from the Diet, which must have been caused by personal indisposition, or some other legitimate excuse, not by ill-will towards Your Imperial Majesty, or disinclination to attend that assembly. On this point the King and the ambassador disputed for some time, and the former coming to particularize and detail some of the principal points of the agreement that was expected to take place between Rome and the Lutheran princes, said that concessions were made on either side, such as acknowledging the Pope's authority with some limitations, granting the communion sub utraque specie, and allowing the marriage of priests. After this, the King added: "I confess that of those three articles the last is the one that I dislike most, for it is the one which affects in a great measure all Christian princes, especially the king of France, for in the end priests will so increase in numbers by affinity and descent, that they will tyrannize over the very princes, and render the ecclesiastical benefices hereditary in their families." (fn. n3)
After this conversation with the French ambassador, the King sent for the four captains above-mentioned, who on that occasion appeared splendidly and gorgeously attired. When in his presence the King made them remove the cloaks (louvieres) they wore over their uniforms, that he and the French ambassadors might better see and inspect their accoutrements; the same being afterwards done with some of their soldiers. (fn. n4)
After the King had levied and received the tax on foreigners, to whom a respite had been granted till after these present festivities, which is the date fixed for their leaving this country, a rumour was circulated that all foreign merchants, without distinction, will have to leave, except those who choose to take out letters of naturalization, to obtain which they must pay down one third of all their fortune, besides the cost of seals and writing, which amounts to 10 ducats, and having to swear besides most strict fidelity to the King. Notwithstanding such oppressive and costly measures, an immense number of foreigners are actually taking out letters of naturalization, so that the King will be able to derive, from that source only, an incalculable sum of money. True is it that, as far as I am told, this King's commissioners—those whom the King has appointed for that service—do not proceed to extremities with your Majesty's subjects, nor are they as rigid and severe in the valuation of their property as they are with that of other foreign merchants, especially French, yet the measure is, as Your Majesty may imagine, exceedingly oppressive, and as it is almost impossible for the King's commissioners to draw out and prepare such a number of letters of naturalization, the date for the expulsion of foreign merchants has been prorogued until St. John's Day, during which time those who choose to remain in England and wish to obtain such letters must needs have their names inscribed in the Chancery books, and take the oath of fealty.
Three days ago the King's privy councillors sent me a message to the following effect: At Nyeuport (Newport), in Flanders, no less than fourteen fishing smacks, with their respective crews, have been seized for no other reason than for their having sailed to that port, and there laded fish for the London market, as they have been accustomed to do in old times; and that the seizure has been made in virtue of the proclamation and edict lately emanating from Your Majesty, forbidding goods of any sort to be taken out of the Low Countries in English bottoms. The privy councillors further alleged that the Emperor's proclamation could not possibly extend to fish, and that consequently the custom-house officers at Newport had evidently misunderstood its meaning, and exceeded orders. I myself (said they) could testify to the fact that similar proclamations were never so rigorously enforced here in England, and that very often, and almost daily, at my intercession, Your Majesty's subjects in this country were, as regarded their interests, treated with all possible mildness. Should the people of the Low Countries go on with their present system, they (the English) would be obliged to retaliate, and enforce with extreme rigour the statutes and laws of England, all the time procuring and trying not to do nor attempt anything directly or indirectly against the treaties and confederations the King, their master, had with Your Imperial Majesty. The councillors' message ended by requesting that I would write to the queen regent of Flanders and the Low Countries begging for the release of the said smacks and crews. There was, however, no need for the councillors' recommendation, for, as I heard from a seaman of Newport, on the very same day that the aforesaid message was brought to me both the vessels and their crews were released.
Quite recently a conspiracy has been detected here. About fifty persons, among whom were six or seven priests, had determined to kill the bishop of Landaff, governor of the northern counties, intending to take possession of a fortress of the King, where he (the Bishop) resides, and strengthen themselves therein. The conspirators were perhaps emboldened and encouraged in their undertaking by the fact that for some time past there has been a rumour that the Scotch were stirring on the border, and thinking also that this King was already at war on the other side of the Channel, since he is sending thither troops. The conspirators, however, have been nearly all arrested, and, as is generally believed, there will be no grace for them. The King, moreover, fearing lest in the North there should exist other conspiracies of the same kind, or perhaps more dangerous ones still, has announced his intention to go thither immediately after these festivities.—London, Easter-day 1541.
Signed: "Eustace Chapuys."
Indorsed: "Copy of the letter of the ambassador in England to the Emperor."
French. Original. pp. 4½.
17 April. 157. The Same to the Queen of Hungary.
Wien, Imp. Arch.
Rep. P.,
Fasc. C. 282,
f. 18.
By the enclosed letter, addressed by me to the Emperor, Your Majesty will be acquainted with late events in this country. I should have been glad, as was my duty, immediately to inform Your Majesty thereof, and principally of this king having actually dispatched a number of military men and others to his dominions across the Channel, had I not been unable to do so, owing to there being no courier for Flanders at the time, and also to my thinking that a movement of English troops of that sort on the frontiers of the Low Countries could not fail to have attracted the attention of your governors and officials there. There was still another consideration. I was afraid that the delay required to investigate the truth would be too long for my drawing up a report the day before the departure of the courier, which happened to be Easter Day, for when I obtained reliable information it was too late, and the courier had actually left. I might, perhaps, have dispatched a private messenger of my own, but, to tell Your Majesty the truth, I am so hard up, in consequence of that treasury not having remitted to me any of my salary for the last six months, that I have no money left for such a service, even if the news had been more important than it is. I therefore beg Your Majesty to order that I be paid my arrears, besides 126 florins which stand as a balance in my favor by last year's account.—London, 17th April 1541.
Signed: "Eustace Chapuys."
French. Original. pp. 2.


  • n1. "Lesquels auront davantaige chascun cinquantes souldars de guerre."
  • n2. Le jour de Pasques flories.
  • n3. "Car a la longue les ditz prestres saccresceroint (saccroitreroint) si tant de affinite et lignee, quilz vouldroient tirannizer les mesmes princes, et fere hereditaires les benefices."
  • n4. "Les quels ce jour la sestoient accoustrez tout a neufz, et bien gorgiosement (sic) et bravement, et estans la venuz, il leur feist [de] pouser les louvieres quilz portoient, affin que luy et le dit ambassadeur aussi veissent mieulx les dits accoustrements, et le mesmes fust faict daulcungs des souldars."