Spain: November 1541, 21-30

Pages 396-406

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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November 1541, 21-30

22 Nov. 208. The Marquis de Aguilar and Musgr. de Granvelle to the Same.
S. E., L. 870,
ff. 85–6.
B. M. Add. 28,593,
f. 64.
On the 14th inst. we wrote to Your Majesty all that had occurred up to that day, and how the bishop of Fosumbrum (Fossombrone), the Pope's first Secretary and Datary, who was to be sent to France concerning the observance of the truce and the release of Monsr. de Valencia, had actually left for that country three days before; on the 11th His Holiness (we wrote) had likewise instructed the bishop to speak to king Francis in his name about the best means of promoting peace between Your Imperial Majesty and himself.
As to religious matters and other affairs of importance, we could not then say much, as His Holiness seemed still undecided, and had not yet given a categorical answer to our questions; we are now in a better situation as to that, having already held several conferences with him, which will enable us to form a judgment. With regard to the former, which may be reduced to four cardinal points, namely, the Council, the reform of the Clergy, the Catholic League, and the Diet to obtain help against the Turk, as well as the creation of cardinals and relief of the Colonna family, (fn. n1) after several conferences, attended by cardinals Santa Croce and Farnese, His Holiness said, as to the first point, that the College of Cardinals was unanimously of opinion that a General Council of the Church ought to be held, were it for no other reason than the preservation of the authority and dignity of the Apostolic See, which might otherwise be charged with having placed impediments in its way. That in His Holiness' opinion, which was also that of all the cardinals, the place to hold it in ought not to be a city of Germany, not even Trent, which, though situated on the confines of Italy, and therefore a suitable spot enough as to locality, was, nevertheless, a narrow, unsalubrious and scantily provided city, quite unfit for the purpose. That many of the cardinals had then looked for some convenient spot within the confines of Italy, some of them voting for Mantua, others for Ferrara, others, again, for other cities, though the majority was of opinion that one of those two cities ought to be selected. This my colleague and I resisted, arguing that the choosing of a place within Italy for the celebration and meeting of the General Council would necessarily exasperate the Separatists, and that to send such a message to the Germans in answer to their application would be exceedingly dangerous under the circumstances. It was almost certain, as Your Majesty told him (the Pope) at Lucca, that neither the Catholics nor the Separatists of Germany would attend a council held out of their own country, and, that if the answer was such as intended, they would be driven to despair. In our opinion (we said) it was far better suited to and convenient for the dignity of the Apostolic See that the answer should be thus shaped: The Pope was glad to have the Council assembled, not only because he himself wished for it, but owing to Your Majesty's pressing solicitations at Lucca; the place of its meeting to be one to the complete satisfaction of the Germans. This answer (we said) would have the effect of calming the passions of the Separatists, and in the meantime negociations upon other important points might be prosecuted. That seemed to us a fit and straightforward excuse for His Holiness to make, thus throwing all the blame on king Francis, who, as might be gathered from his answer, was not at all in favor of the Council being held in Germany. To select Mantua would be most offensive to the Germans; Ferrara would be worse still, that city being no fief of the Empire, but of Rome.
Though His Holiness understood very well the pith of our argument, and what we meant by it, yet it was resolved that my colleague and I should go on debating this point and others with the two above-mentioned cardinals. So it was, for on the ensuing day, having reproduced some of the arguments of the previous day to prove that the General Council could not possibly be held out of Germany, both Santa Croce and Farnese declared to us that His Holiness still insisted upon Trent not being a fit place to hold a Council in, and therefore proposed that the meeting should be held either in Mantua or in Ferrara. There was no harm, they said, in designating either of those cities, inasmuch as it was a notorious fact that neither in Italy nor in Germany, nor, indeed, anywhere under Papal authority, would the Separatists attend a Council of the Church, whereas the Pope was pretty sure that the German Catholics would all come, as several prelates of high reputation and learning had written this to him. In vain did we represent to them that the Pope was very much mistaken if he thought that any of the Catholic princes in Germany would willingly attend a Council out of their own country. I, Granvelle, insisted particularly on this point, as Your Majesty's minister, and one who had been in frequent communication with them, and knew what their intentions were. Not one of the German princes (said I) will come to Italy, either because they dislike the journey, or because they have no money to spend on their suites and attendants. Should the Council meet in Germany, on the contrary, all will attend with pleasure, for they wish for it, and both parties will be satisfied. Should the Separatists refuse to go, nobody will miss them, for their errors having been already exposed and reprobated in previous Councils, the assembly, in their absence, might more freely discuss the means of recalling them to the true Faith.
In view of these and other arguments of ours, the Cardinals proposed Mantua, Ferrara, or Cambray, which last city, they said, was an Imperial one within the limits of Germany, subject to its prelate, and conveniently situated for England and France to send their representatives thither. They asked our opinion on the subject, saying that His Holiness wished also to consult all the princes of Europe thereupon. My answer was that I (Granvelle) had come to Rome for the sole purpose of urging the convocation of the Council, and the convenience of its celebration in Germany; that I and my colleague wished to know what His Holiness would do in case of king Francis refusing to go to Cambray? The Cardinals' answer was that in that case His Holiness would act as it behoved a good Pope to do; and upon our pressing them to declare what they considered His Holiness' duty to be, the Cardinals replied that they could not exactly tell, and declined to go on with the conversation any longer. We, nevertheless, insisted, and asked them: "Should the Council not meet, what will His Holiness do?" No answer on the part of the Cardinals, save to say that His Holiness had done everything in his power to promote the meeting of the Council. "Then (said I) you will not find it strange on our part if we, His Majesty's ministers in Italy, write to and communicate with the king of the Romans (Ferdinand), and with the other princes of the Empire, respecting the answer which His Holiness intends giving to their application."
We have no doubt that the Pope's answer, ex officio, will be less crude than that of the two Cardinals deputed to debate the matter with us; but we think also, nay, are certain, that, though conceived in milder terms, the substance of it will be nearly the same.
With regard to the reform of the Clergy, the Cardinals said that His Holiness had made up his mind to send to the Council the bishop of Modena; (fn. n2) that his instructions were already drawn out, and would be submitted to us, that we might make any observations we pleased and advise thereupon.
Respecting the ratification of the Catholic League, the Cardinals insisted upon His Holiness having received great injury by his being set down at one fourth of the total expenditure, as was the case in the former league between him, the Venetians, and your Imperial Majesty. (fn. n3) We told them that it would not do for His Holiness—who had always maintained that matters of Faith and Religion were of his own exclusive province, as appertaining to his dignity, and that nobody had a right to immisce himself in ecclesiastical affairs—now to find fault with the contribution of one fourth of the expenses in a matter which concerned him so nearly.
As to the Diet to be celebrated on the 14th of January, for the purpose of obtaining help against the Turk, the Cardinals declared that His Holiness was quite ready to contribute with a sum of money proportionate to that of other Catholic powers, and would send to Spires the bishop of Modena, with full instructions to take engagements in his name. We told them that this affair admitted of no delay; the case was urgent, and there was no time to lose in consultations and answers. Reliable intelligence had been received that the Turk will come down next spring, both by sea and by land, and it behoved the Christian princes to be prepared against his attacks; that was the chief reason for the convocation of the German princes and electors to the Diet of Spires. His Holiness (we said) must remember his conversation with His Imperial Majesty at Lucca, when he promised to contribute with all his power; it was in virtue of that promise that the king of the Romans had decided to convoke the Diet, and it was quite clear that neither Your Majesty nor your brother, the king of the Romans, could take up the affair without knowing first how and with what sum he (the Pope) meant to help. It was, therefore, for His Holiness to declare how he intended to assist. Then the Cardinals, in order to parry the intended blow, asked point blank: "And why should His Holiness contribute, if the Turk does not come down next spring? The news is that he will not invade Hungary next year, but that in 1542 he is sure to come personally and lead his army into the centre of Europe." "That may be (we answered); but the attacks of that Infidel are sudden, and that is why we must be prepared at any cost." In short, whatever efforts we made, we could never get a categorical answer from the Cardinals, who said they would consult His Holiness thereupon and let us know.
Coming to the question of the creation of cardinals, which is another of the points under discussion, we repeated to Farnese and Santa Croce the very same arguments of which Your Majesty made use at Lucca. We begged them to remind the Pope of the promises he then and there had made, and to represent to him how outrageous it was that France, which was only one kingdom, should have eleven cardinals, besides many Italians, whom king Francis considers as of his party, whilst Spain and the whole of the Empire, nay, all Your Majesty's dominions, comprising so many kingdoms and lordships in the four quarters of the world, had only four! Having afterwards had occasion to speak to His Holiness on the subject, he told us that he was animated by the most paternal sentiments towards Your Majesty, but in the state in which European politics were, he considered it dangerous to over-irritate king Francis. If I would only tell him how many cardinals' hats Your Imperial Majesty wanted for ecclesiastics of your kingdoms—men of virtue and learning—he would have them in pectore, &c. Told him that what Your Majesty wished to know was what number of cardinals he intended to make at the next creation, and how many of those cardinals to be appointed were natives of France or attached to the king of that country. Again and again did I and my colleague repeat the same argument on the following days, whenever we met with His Holiness and the two cardinals; neither from him nor from them could we learn what His Holiness' intentions are in that particular.
With regard to Ascanio Colonna, we told him that since the sentence had been executed we thought that clemency ought to follow. After all Ascanio's excesses must be ascribed to insanity rather than to wickedness. He had been severely punished, and now his wife and children were in trouble. It was for the sake of them, and for the rest of the Colonna family—who had always been Your Majesty's friends—that clemency was asked. You had perhaps been blamed for not having sooner interfered in their behalf, but now that the sentence had been executed, Your Majesty could not do less than ask His Holiness' forgiveness; you would be glad if some agreement should be entered into likely to put an end to the suit. "That cannot be, said the Pope, save under three conditions: 1. That the third party be indemnified. 2. The payment of the expenses incurred by the Apostolic See in the affair. 3. Security for the future." (fn. n4) And upon our suggesting that if Ascanio's property were restored to his wife and children the affair might be settled amicably, the Pope refused to grant that, saying that unless the parties concerned were first indemnified nothing could be done in the matter.
As nothing had been settled definitively during our last conference with the Cardinals, as the Pope had gone to Hostia, and I myself kept pressing them for an answer, saying that I wished to return home as soon as possible, they faithfully promised us to draw up a report of what had been said at the meeting, that His Holiness might answer on the whole.
On the 18th His Holiness came back from Hostia, and on the ensuing day granted us audience, in which, after an "exposé" of our reasons for urging a prompt resolution on the above six points, and after cardinal Santa Croce had given a summary account of what passed at the conferences with him and Farnese, His Holiness repeated nearly the same arguments which he and his two cardinals had used before, namely, that if peace could not be otherwise effected in Christendom, the only remedy was a General Council of the Church. That he had always desired its meeting, principally for fear it should hereafter be said, as was already rumoured in Germany, that he had no intention to convoke one. That the most suitable and commodious place to hold the Council in was, in his opinion, Mantua, owing to that city being a fief of the Empire, and its archbishop the Duke's brother, and Your Majesty's good servant. He had designated Ferrara merely in substitution, in case the other city was not accepted, and because, in old times, Councils had also been held therein. Should neither of these two cities be accepted, he would propose Modena, which was likewise a commodious place for all parties. Oddly enough, His Holiness at this audience made no mention whatever of Cambray, as the Cardinals had done during the conferences, nor could we guess what their motive was in making such a proposal, that city being situated in Flanders, far away from Italy, and one that the College of Cardinals would never have chosen for the purpose.
With regard to the Catholic League, besides reproducing the same arguments used in our conferences with the Cardinals, we declared to His Holiness that the principal object of that League had been, as he well knew, the upholding of the credit and authority of the Holy See, as well as the preservation of Catholicism. Should he refuse to ratify the treaty, such as it was, in its very terms, and without changing a word therein, the League would certainly be undone, and the Separatists would then take courage and gather strength for fresh and more violent attacks against the Holy Apostolic See, whilst the true Catholics, seeing themselves deserted, might perhaps come to terms with their opponents. His Holiness made no attempt whatever to refute this argument of mine, but insisted that the fixing of his quota of the expenses at one-fourth, without consulting him or his ministers, was a manifest injury done to him. The Apostolic See was poor, and his own treasury drained; he could not afford to spend so much. Had his quota been fixed at one-sixth part of the whole sum spent, as in the Venetian League of yore, he might perhaps bind himself to the payment thereof; otherwise he could take no engagement to that effect. Your Imperial Majesty, he observed, owned several kingdoms, from which you could draw as much money as you pleased, &c. I (Granvelle) answered thus: I told His Holiness that he ought to consider that Your Imperial Majesty had come to Germany, and spent, perhaps, a good deal more money than he (the Pope) could imagine, for the sole purpose of upholding the authority of the Holy See, and that since your arrival in that country you had not allowed one single word to be said against Apostolical authority. That he ought to know for certain that had Your Majesty consented to, or winked at, the resistance to Papal authority, minor matters of religion might have been settled, there being no great difference between the parties. (fn. n5) Your Majesty then would not have required this present League, nor would you have had much to do towards resisting a Turkish invasion, inasmuch as the Separatists themselves would gladly have helped you. "Even now (I continued) I have letters from Germany, in which they tell me that if Your Majesty will consent to their remaining for twenty years to come in the state in which they are now, they will engage to make war on the Turk at their own expense, and expel him from Hungary; and yet Your Majesty had rejected their offers for the sake of the Apostolic See and its authority." Neither did I fail to mention on that occasion the immense sacrifices in men and money which Your Majesty's brother, the king of the Romans, had made in preserving from contamination the Catholic States bordering upon countries where Protestantism was prevalent, besides defending Hungary against the Turk.
Not knowing what to answer to my reasoning, His Holiness turned the conversation, and began to speak about his own expenses in the former League; how he had deposited 50,000 ducats; how he had contributed with galleys for the Tunis undertaking; the assistance he had given when the Turk came to La Bellona (Valona), and after that the League with the Venetians and the 35 galleys, which he says he sent thither at an expense much greater than the sum he was bound to pay for his share; (fn. n6) and lastly, the 20,000 ducats which in this very year he has sent to the king of the Romans. That Your Majesty was lord of many kingdoms, and that from Naples alone you had taken upwards of two millions of gold. My answer was that Your Majesty had already spent upwards of 250,000 ducats over and above your contribution to the League, and that the cost of the galleys and infantry which Your Majesty was obliged to support annually exceeded considerably that sum. That the first grant made by the Spanish Cortes was entirely spent in resisting the Turkish attack upon La Bellona (Valona), to which His Holiness had only contributed 40,000. That Your Majesty would not have troubled him with matters which seemed to give him so much annoyance had you not been obliged to do so.
After a good deal of debating, His Holiness said that he was quite willing and ready to confirm the League, and would send the bishop of Modena (Morone) to Germany for that express purpose; but as he considered that by his being rated at the fourth part of the total expenditure he was much injured, the Bishop was to try and get the difference from the German prelates likely to enter into the League, so that by their contributing with two parts, his own quota may virtually be reduced to the sixth part of the whole expenditure. Perceiving that we could not get more from him we gave in, and accordingly the point was finally settled as His Holiness wished.
With regard to the Diet and help against the Turk, His Holiness began by saying that what with the war he had been obliged to carry on against Perugia, Camarino, and Ascanio Colonna, together with other expenses incurred in Italy and elsewhere, his treasury was completely exhausted, and that he had no means whatever at his disposal. "Those wars (he said) had been undertaken principally for the sake of Pontifical authority, and the support of the Church, but I will see if I can borrow money from bankers and merchants, &c." Our reply was to beg him again, in view of the imminent danger in which Christendom was, to name at once the sum with which he would contribute in case of the Turk coming down, as we feared, in order that Your Imperial Majesty might know what to say in the Diet, and decide for or against taking the command of the expedition [against Algiers]: "general offers (I said) would not do in this instance, and the Emperor wants a categorical answer on that point." Still His Holiness persisted that he could in nowise fix the amount of his personal contribution unless he knew beforehand what military preparations had been, or were likely to be, made for the defence of Christendom, adding that the last news he had from Ragusa were to the effect that Barbarossa had gone to Negroponte with 80 galleys of the Grand Turk and 40 sails of corsairs to take up provisions there, and then come to La Prevesa for winter quarters, in order to be ready in the spring to ravage the coast of Italy, which he (the Pope) seemed to dread still more than a Turkish invasion of Germany by way of Hungary. "I shall, however, do my best and collect as much money as I can in order to attend to both these urgent needs, and the Cardinals will tell you to morrow what resolution I have come to on that point."
Next day we called on the Cardinals, and finding that they had not yet received His Holiness' answer, we begged them to bear in mind that I (Granvelle) had come purposely to Rome to know whether His Holiness would contribute to the defence of Christendom against the Turk, and, if so, with what sum. That your Imperial Majesty could not appear before the German Diet without having that point settled, and its members knowing what he would do; without that the blame would fall entirely on His Holiness. In short, that I and my colleague had instructions from His Imperial Majesty to ask for a categorical answer to the following four questions:—1st. With what sum of money or number of galleys will His Holiness help towards the fleet that must necessarily be put to sea for the defence of the coast of Italy? 2nd. As our intelligence is that king Francis has lately sent a message to the Turk, his ally, that he himself is ready to commence the war next spring, should the truce be broken by him, and all His Holiness' efforts to secure peace have proved unavailing; should he refuse to release the bishop of Valence (Valencia), who, we hear, is kept in still closer confinement and worse treated than before—not indeed in retaliation for the case of Cesare Fragoso and Rincon, but because it is hoped that he will through ill-treatment die in prison, and not take possession of the coadjutorship of Liege for which he has been appointed—what will His Holiness do? These were the four points on which I (Granvelle) was ordered respectfully to interrogate His Holiness, and on which I wished to obtain an answer to take to His Imperial Majesty. Nor did we fail at the same time to press for a declaration respecting the two remaining points, namely, the creation of cardinals and the Colonna family.
This was before dinner: the repast over, the Cardinals went into His Holiness' chamber, and soon returned with the following answer:—To the Turkish war, if offensive, that is against an army commanded by the Grand Turk in person, His Holiness will contribute 5,000 infantry, provided he be not expected to contribute also towards the fleet, for he could not possibly meet both demands; if defensive, he will only contribute one-half of that number, or 2,500 infantry.
With regard to king Francis, should he break the truce on the arrival of the Turk, and take the field with an army, in that case His Holiness will act as a good Pope is bound to do; he cannot enter into more particulars. The same is to be understood with regard to the archbishop of Valence (Valencia); no further declaration was needed, because, according to the answer that king Francis would give to his pressing requests, he would consult his College of Cardinals, and then such a demonstration as the case required would be made.
Respecting the cardinals' hats and Ascanio Colonna, His Holiness referred us to what he had declared on a former occasion.
Such has been His Holiness' resolution on all points, upon which, perceiving that it was no use for us to make any more remarks, we took leave of the Cardinals, (fn. n7) I (Granvelle) in particular telling them to procure me an audience from His Holiness, as I wished as soon as possible to return to Spain. His Holiness received me the day after, and although in the course of conversation I could not get from him anything beyond what I have said above, the reception could not have been kinder than it was, His Holiness assuring me over and over again that he would forward Your Majesty's interests everywhere; that the indiction of the General Council will be fixed fox Pentecostes; that the reform of the Clergy will be committed to the bishop of Modena, but that the instructions for that prelate's mission had not yet been made out. As to the Catholic League, that he was quite ready to confirm and ratify it on condition of his not being obliged to pay the fourth part of the whole expenses. As to help against the Turk, should Solyman himself come down, or should the Emperor take the command of the Christian army against the Infidel, in that case, and should the war be an offensive one, His Holiness will assist with 5,000 infantry paid by him, on condition, however, that he be not called upon to share the cost of the fleet; but should the war be merely defensive, only with one half of the above number of men. Respecting the cardinals' hats, that he wishes to be agreeable to Your Imperial Majesty in every respect, but that for the present he is not thinking of creating any. On the Colonna business we found him as obstinately resolved as ever, namely, that until the Apostolic Chamber has recovered the losses it sustained in the war against Ascanio, and securities are given for the future, the confiscated estates cannot be restored to his wife and children.
His Holiness would not declare what he would do in case of the king of France commencing a war against Your Majesty, or refusing to give up the bishop of Valence (Valencia), his prisoner; he said only that in that case he would do his duty as a good Pope ought.
The bull for the half-fruits of Flanders is about to be issued.—The memorandum on certain ecclesiastical affairs of Spain is in the hands of cardinal Parisio and auditor Marcello, for them to examine the same and report. The Cardinal is a good man, a servant and vassal of Your Imperial Majesty.
The 8,000 ducats assigned for Madame Margaret's maintenance have been consigned on the Papal treasury, to be paid monthly. Concerning the purchase of Rocca Guillerma and Altamura, the viceroy of Naples (Toledo) has been written to to effect it at once according to Your Majesty's commands. Knowing that Madame would like to retain commander Valençuela in her service, we applied to His Holiness about it, and he had no objection whatever, and he was accordingly confirmed in his post of High Chamberlain.
The duke of Castro has arrived, and has done all he could to forward the business for which I (Granvelle) came to Rome.—Rome, 22 of November 1541.—The Marquis de Aguilar—Perrenot.
P.D.—After the above was written cardinal Frenesis (Farnese) sent us a letter of the 11th inst. from the Papal Nuncio residing at Venice, wherein it is said that four days before one captain Cola, of Barletta, had arrived in that city, sent by Capt. Polin (Paulin, Poulain?), of Belgrade, with the news that the latter had been in treaty with the Turk on behalf of king Francis, his master. It was not yet known in Venice what sort of agreement had been made between Solyman and the latter, but it was conjectured that the former had written to say that he would be ready next spring to achieve great things by land and sea.
Spanish. Original. pp. 4.


  • n1. "Que son quatro punctos principales á saber Concilio, Reformacion, Liga Catholica, Dieta para la asistencia contra el Turcho, y tambien sobre los otros de la promocion de cardinales, y remedio de Casa Colonna."
  • n2. Giovan Morone, 1529–50, cardinal in 1542.
  • n3. That of the year 1538–9.
  • n4. "Que se remitiessen primero tres cosas: el interesse del tercio; la satisfaccion de lo que la sede Apostolica habia gastado; y la seguridad para lo de adelante."
  • n5. "Y que supiese cierto que si a este articulo V. Magd hoviera querido dar lugar en las otras cosas de la religion hoviera poca diferencia."
  • n6. "Y las treinta y cinco galeras que dice envio para la dicha empresa, el gasto de las quales encareasce mucho mas que su porcion."
  • n7. That is Farnese and Santa Croce. See above, p. 386.