Spain: April 1545, 16-30

Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 8, 1545-1546. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1904.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.

'Spain: April 1545, 16-30', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 8, 1545-1546, (London, 1904) pp. 89-97. British History Online [accessed 25 April 2024]

April 1545, 16–30

17 April. Simancas E. 1377. 44. The Emperor to Figueroa (Ambassador in Genoa).
Yours of 28th ultimo received. The object of the present is to inform you that the French ambassador here has assured us from his master, that the latter learns from good authority that the King of England is making some agreement with the Duke of Savoy; and has sent him 150,000 crowns to begin war against the King of France in Piedmont. The Marquis del Guasto and Prince Doria have also, he says, been together a great deal; and in constant confabulation with you. He (the King of France) thus wishes to intimate that they not only intend to aid the Duke of Savoy, but are even planning a descent upon Marseilles by sea. He also speaks of the Sienese and — (fn. 1) and others who are plotting together, and intend to raise 2,000 infantry to advance on Pigneroli and Montcalieri, and finally to raise war from the State of Milan, with the object of aiding Savoy. The King of France says that he has ascertained that this is not being done by our orders, but he has been informed that, at least, it is with our knowledge; and he begs us very earnestly, having regard to the condition of our relations, and the trust he reposed in our word, that we will take steps to prevent it, and will punish the Duke of Savoy. We have replied that, not only has the Duke of Savoy not informed us of this—which is perfectly true—but that we do not believe that the English King has been so liberal to him as to send him the sum mentioned; seeing how little the Duke could do. We do not, moreover, think, for many reasons, that the things the King mentions are being done, and we feel sure that, even if the King of England were to approach the Duke, the latter would enter into no arrangement without previously consulting us and learning our wishes.
As to the Marquis del Guasto, Prince Doria, the Sienese (fn. 2) and the others, we said that we did not believe that such a thing had entered their heads; but even in the highly improbable case that it had, we were certain that neither the Marquis nor Doria would move a step in such a business without our knowledge and consent. The King of France, we said, might calm his fears, and depend absolutely upon our word; which would be kept as it always had been. We were positive that no minister of ours had ever thought of, or dealt with, such a plan as that spoken of, and the truth of this would easily be proved on investigation. The Ambassador enquired in case the Duke of Savoy promoted the war, as it was suspected he would, whether we would join the King of France in punishing him. To this we replied that, although we were always of opinion that the Duke would not stir in such a business without first informing us, yet if such a thing were to happen, the King of France would have no need to trouble himself or interfere at all; for we ourselves would fittingly punish the Duke, and the King would have no cause to complain. We judge that all this is of less importance than the French make out, and that the suspicions may have originated from your going to Milan, in order to inform the Marquis del Guasto of what we wrote to you about the alternative marriage, and from the subsequent communications between the Marquis and the Duke (of Savoy). In accordance with their usual character, the French need Very little ground upon which to found their suspicions, and they talk as lightly as they think; but as things are in their present condition, it will be advisable to avoid all occasion for distrust. We wish to show by our actions the absolute straightforwardness of our proceedings throughout, and for this reason we have thought well to inform you of the above for your own guidance; and in order that you may convey it to the Marquis del Guasto, verbally if he be there, or by a confidential messenger, and also write it to the Duke of Savoy. He is the principal person of whom they complain, and it will be wise for him to take great care to avoid any communications or negotiations which may give rise to suspicion, or provide the French with a handle they may seize. You will avoid meeting as much as possible, and will, with such dissimulation as you may, produce the impression upon the French that they were misinformed upon the whole thing, and so do away with this constant distrust.
No doubt when we arrive at Antwerp we shall have received the Marquis del Guasto's letters to which you refer, and we will then answer yours.
Since writing the above we have received the letters of which we enclose copy from our ambassador in France. Inform the Marquis of the contents.
Malines, 17 April, 1545.
19 April. Vienna Imp. Arch. 45. Chapuys and Van der Delft to the Queen Dowager.
On the 15th we received letters of 10th, with enclosures, informing us fully of the negotiations with Paget. His own good and sincere report of the same negotiations was extremely well received by the King and all the Councillors, who are marvellously pleased at Paget's success, as they informed us to-day. On the day after Paget's arrival here, which was the 10th, the Council declared to the mayor, sheriffs and burgesses of London, that the relations of amity between the Emperor and the King were never better than at present, and that they (i.e., the citizens) might freely, and without misgiving, ship their merchandise, and trade in his Majesty's dominions. Although we were gratified at this indication of the King's favourable tendency, we were not altogether satisfied, as neither the King nor the Council had given us any information whatever, or even mentioned, Paget's mission or his return. For this reason, and to learn fully what had been agreed upon; and also to ascertain whether any offence had been taken at the stay of the Scottish Ambassador at Brussels; to discover whom they were going to send to the joint arbitration; and further to ask for the release of certain ships which were still detained here, we thought it advisable to ask for an audience of the Council. They begged us to postpone it until this morning; and, both before and after dinner, we communicated with them on several private claims, such as that of the Burgos merchants, the jewel claim and several others. At length, we dwelt upon the case of the detention of a ship belonging to Thomas Barbain, loaded with woad from Bordeaux, and after much discussion obtained its release. With regard, however, to the ship of Albroz Pardo and his partners, of which we have written to your Majesty, they (the councillors) raised difficulties, in consequence of the goods having been sold. As they could not answer our arguments, they told us that we ought not to stand upon so small a thing, especially in view of the liberal and full release of the rest of the property by the King. Even during the last few days they had released 8 or 10 ships loaded with Bordeaux-wine bound to Flanders, although they thought that a portion of the cargo belonged to Frenchmen. The Council had informed us about the capture of these ships some six days before, with the desire of excusing the Captain of the Isle of Wight, who had mistaken them for enemies, and had discharged several cannon shot against them, but doing no more damage than piercing one ship in an unimportant spot. The King has chosen as his representatives at the joint arbitration Dr. Petre, (fn. 3) a companion of Secretary Paget, Dr. Trigoult (Trigway?), and for gentleman of the short-robe Master Vaughan, (fn. 4) who was formerly ambassador to your Majesty, and also Master Chamberlain. They will arrive there on the 4th or 5th May with the necessary powers and instructions and with full information as to the injuries which they allege have been suffered by Englishmen; and for the excuse and defence against the claims made upon them. The Councillors have been marvellously diligent and dexterous in this matter, sending information privately to the trades and merchants of all sorts.
The Council has not mentioned to us the long stay of the Scottish ambassador in Flanders; although our conversation was such as would have admitted of some reference being made to it. They said nothing about it even when they came to tell us from the King that he was informed that the King of France intended shortly to send a number of troops to Scotland, and a large sum of money to move the Scots to invade England; in which case, they said, the Emperor was bound by the treaty of friendship to help the English with men and money. They begged us to advise his Majesty to this effect, in order that he might make timely provision to aid if required. We promised to do so, but went no further in the matter.
Touching the wrongs constantly committed by these people upon the Emperor's subjects, we presume that your Majesty and the Councillors will be fully informed of the details of most, or all, of them. We will, nevertheless, obey the orders sent to us, and mention a few points. Although it is provided in the treaty of intercourse that the subjects on both sides may visit and sojourn in either territory, and trade freely as in their own country, these people, during the last few years, have expelled innumerable Flemings from England, refusing to allow them to live here, unless they take out letters of neutrality which cost a large sum of money. These letters of neutrality are outrageous, as they contain an oath of allegiance (fidelité) as if to a natural sovereign, besides which the foreigner is obliged to acknowledge the constitution as it exists here, and those who have houses or live here are obliged, not only to take out these letters of neutrality, but are assessed to pay double the taxes paid by Englishmen. Besides this, for the last 12 or 13 years, they have had to pay to the Mayor and chiefs of the city certain dues they call “cavage,” a most injurious tax, which was formerly not paid. For some time past, too, they are prohibited from exporting wheat, cheese and most kinds of undressed cloth, so that there is nothing left for the Netherlanders to export from here but tin, lead and certain sorts of cloth; and lead has been lately on the point of being prohibited, in consequence of a design of the King to monopolise the export trade in the metal, of which he has great quantities. (fn. 5) Nothing more has been said about the complaint of the Earl of Hertford and the Bishop of Winchester, mentioned in your Majesty's letters. They appeared quite satisfied with our original explanation. We are strongly under the impression that Secretary Paget never wrote anything of the land, and that it was merely an excuse for coming to see us.
When Paget's penultimate letters reached here the King ordered the biscuit-bakers and other provision dealers not to hurry much with their orders, and it was also proposed to release certain Venetian and Aragonese vessels which had been detained here to serve in the war. But a few days afterwards the embargo on the ships was confirmed, and a number of men in the neighbourhood have been warned for service. This looks as if the King was not now so hopeful of the truce (i.e., with France) as he was when Paget wrote.
London, 19 April, 1545.
Note.—Attached to the above letter, there is a small strip of paper, apparently written afterwards, containing the following in cipher. “It is true that the prohibitions mentioned would be bearable if there were any necessity for them; but such is not the case, for every day they allow such merchandise etc. to be exported by means of licenses which cost a great deal of money.”
25 April. Vienna Imp. Arch. 46. The Emperor to Chapuys.
In accordance with the arrangement effected with Paget, of which you have been informed, it will be necessary for us to send some worthy personages to Gravelines next month, to meet those appointed by the King of England to represent him. Considering the long experience you have had of English affairs, and of the English way of negotiating, we have decided that no one more fitting than yourself could be chosen for one of these personages. It will therefore be necessary for you to make preparations for taking leave of the King and setting forth on your journey. Your further stay in England is, moreover, unnecessary, having regard to the arrangement made with Paget; and M. Francis Van der Delft will be able to fulfil the other parts of the mission, in accordance with our instructions from time to time, and those of the Queen Dowager.
We enclosed in recent letters to you from the Queen two memorials in Spanish, detailing certain seizures and robberies committed by English ships upon our Spanish subjects on their homeward voyage from the Indies, and also upon others from Biscay. In return for these robberies, our said subjects have used reprisals before informing us of them. You will request the restitution of the property seized, in accordance with the treaty made with Paget; and if they speak to you about the reprisals, you must make the best excuse you can, saying that they were effected without our knowledge; and that, as soon as we learn of the restitution being made, we will make a similar restitution on our side.
Antwerp, 25 April, 1545.
26 April. Vienna Imp. Arch. 47. Chapuys and Van der Delft to the Queen Dowager.
Two days since we received your Majesty's letter of the 20th. With regard to the choice of the English Commissioners for the joint arbitration at Gravelines, your Majesty has already been informed by the English ambassador, and by our former letters. The Councillors, up to yesterday, had made no change, but Paget told our man this morning that the Council were going at once to see the King, for the purpose of obtaining the nomination of Dr. Carne, the resident ambassador to your Majesty, in the place of the Court Master (Chamberlain ?) or of Vaughan. He sent word to us at the same time that he was willing for the meeting to be postponed until the 8th May but not longer.
Nothing further has been said about the stay of the Scottish ambassador in Flanders, but, in accordance with your Majesty's instructions, I will, if a good opportunity offers, endeavour to draw them to the subject.
With regard to your Majesty's information as to the despatch from here of the Duchess d' Etampes' secretary, we took a fitting opportunity of mentioning it to Secretary Paget. He replied that it was true that an Italian was recently sent to the French Court respecting the exchange of some English prisoners. Whilst he was there he was approached by several personages, to learn whether there was any possibility of inducing this King to surrender Boulogne on reasonable terms. The Italian had raised great difficulties, but had gone no further in the matter, as he was not empowered and knew nothing about it. Madame d' Etampes had thereupon despatched a gentleman to Boulogne to see Lord Poyns the Governor, under the pretext of exchanging prisoners. This gentleman had had several conferences with Poyns, respecting a peace between the two countries and the restitution of Boulogne; and when the King (of England) was informed of this by Poyns, he replied that on no account in the world was such a thing as the surrender of Boulogne to be discussed. Since then, Paget said, the King had heard nothing more about such a proposition, and we believe this to be the truth. If any person had come from France upon such an errand, we could not fail to have known of it; and no one has come from France for a long time past, except a certain yokel who calls himself a gentleman and says he was in the service of M. d'Enghien, but has come hither in consequence of the illtreatment he met with in France. It appears to us that, no matter how clever a negotiator they may send hither, the French will find it very hard work to persuade the King to the demolition or restoration of Boulogne. On the contrary he is more likely to make that his principal advantage by the war, for reasons which your Majesty will understand better than we do.
With regard to the capture of 60 French vessels mentioned by the English Ambassador, it is true that the news reached the King recently from several quarters; but as the matter was not entirely believed, we thought better not to advise your Majesty of it until it was confirmed. We took an opportunity that offered, however, of writing of it to Secretary Bave: though we do not know whether he has received the letters. After all is said, this grand talk has mostly ended in smoke; as the only captures are 9 or 10 small boats of little value, which were seized off the coast of Brittany. The English force however descended thence upon an island called Belle Isle which they ransomed for 1,500 or 2,000 crowns paid by the inhabitants, notwithstanding which, the English sacked the place and treated the people very cruelly; though all they have brought home from there is a little wheat and some chattels. With regard to the alleged arrest of the Zeelanders and their ships, we can hardly speak of the matter, unless the parties complain to the Councillors, who will not fail to take fitting measures if the statements are proved. We do not however believe that anything of the sort has taken place, as no claim has been made. With reference to the Spanish ships mentioned in the documents sent to us by your Majesty, the Council have taken steps to secure the ship and merchandise captured by Renegat, and they assure us that the restitution shall be made without fail, on condition that a similar release is effected in Spain of the ships seized there belonging to Renegat. The Council also promise to enquire into the contents of the document in Spanish, and to take measures accordingly.
The King has recently sent the Earl of Arundel and other gentlemen to the West coast opposite France, in order to raise ships and men for the defence of that coast. He has also made three very large musters of ships and men, to send to Scotland; whither he is sending all the Spaniards and Italians he has in his service. The Earl of Hertford is to go in command; and we think that their design is to restore a castle which they demolished last year, standing near the sea in the middle of a river. By this means, the King could keep Scotland in submission, as the castle stands in the most commodious place for the purpose. They did not venture last year to undertake the fortification of this place, in consequence of their haste to return and accompany the King to Boulogne, and also because they had not at hand the necessary material, with which they are now amply provided.
We doubt not that your Majesty will have learnt that the Marquis de Palavicini has arrived here with a good company of men, and with some experienced Italian captains. So far as we can understand, however, the man is greatly disappointed in the promises they held out to him, that he should be in chief command of all the Italians in the King's service. Judging by the small sum of money which the King has advanced to him, and certain remarks of the ministers, he even fears that they look upon him with suspicion, and he would be very glad if he and his company were elsewhere. Still, as they have entered into the dance, they will have to go through with it, with what patience they may.
London, 26 April, 1545.
Postscript.—At this moment as we were closing the letter Paget has sent us word that to-morrow afternoon the Bishop of Winchester and himself will come and visit us.
27 April. Vienna Imp Arch 48. Chapuys and Van der Delft to the Queen Dowager.
The messenger who should have left yesterday with our letters postponed his departure, which has given us the time to write the present letter to add to the packet. The Bishop of Winchester and Paget have only just left us. The first object of their visit was to assure us of the King's unreserved and sincere desire to comply fully with the agreement entered into through Paget with the Emperor; and to lose no time in settling the whole affair. It must, they said, be borne in mind, however, that there were certain points which could not be decided off-hand; such as the two claims contained in the Spanish statement mentioned in our last, into which an enquiry would have to be made, and the matter verified. The same was the case with the capture made by Renegat, which they seek to explain and justify by the seizure and retention of some of his ships in Spain. They (the English) have nevertheless sequestrated all Renegat's property; and have sent to summon him hither, in order to examine into the matter. They have also sent for a captain who recently seized certain Spanish ships, and, as is asserted, forcibly extorted from the masters a statement that the cargoes belonged to Frenchmen. The councillors said that the King was greatly annoyed that such insolence should be committed, and, in order to remedy such a state of things, he had thought necessary to recall and prohibit the sailing of all privateers (navires aventuères). We praised this decision; but begged them also to use their influence to have the King's own forces enjoined to behave in accordance with the agreements made, and as friendship and good neighbourship demanded. They (the councellors) then asked us if we had no news on the matter of the proposed truce between France and England, to which we could only reply by saying that his Majesty (the Emperor) had not yet heard from the King of France on the subject, and that some people ascribed the delay in the response to the sending of the gentleman of the Duchess d' Etampes to Boulogne. Secretary Paget confirmed this, and stated to us more fully than we previously knew it, the information conveyed to your Majesty in our last letter, about the said Secretary (of the Duchess d'Etampes) and the French intrigues. He (Paget) then disclosed to us, although he had commenced the above conversation unofficially, that the matter had been broached to us by the orders of the King, who was greatly astonished that no reply had been sent. We assured them that, in our opinion, the Emperor would be no less displeased, seeing how anxious he had been to bring about peace. They (the Councillors) then asked what we thought about the proposed truce, and whether we had any hope of it, to which we answered that we could not avoid having good hope of it, seeing that the Emperor, had intervened in the matter. This reply did not satisfy them; and they pressed us at once to give them our real opinion about it. After much hesitation, and many excuses for our boldness in venturing to give a personal opinion on the affairs of so wise a prince who was blessed with such prudent counsellors, we were constrained to cede to their importunity, and to tell them, that in our opinion, the making of a simple truce could only redound to the advantage and credit of the King of England; and to the discredit of the French; who would not be likely to consent to a truce, unless it contained some condition favourable to them. They, the French, did not fear the invasion of their country by the English, as they did not believe they would advance beyond Boulogne; and therefore judged it to be more advantageous for them, to let the King of England go to the expense of holding Boulogne against an enemy, than to allow him to save money by means of a truce. It was, we said, a very difficult matter to devise a scheme for reconciliation on this point of Boulogne; since the English were absolutely determined to keep the place, and the French were just as determined to recover it. We proceeded to say, lightly and almost jocosely, in order that they might not think we spoke officially, that if they thought to leave the question of Boulogne in suspense until the pensions were paid, it seemed to us most unlikely that the French would listen to such a thing; for it was evident that if they (the French) impoverished themselves first by paying the pensions, they would have less chance of recovering Boulogne than they had at present. Winchester and Paget made no reply to this; but, judging from their demeanour, they seemed to think that it would be no small favour to the French to allow them to defer the payment of the pensions until after the truce had expired.
We put all the pressure possible upon them (Winchester and Paget) to ascertain to what extent the King was disposed to give way; but we could get nothing out of them. On the contrary, they talked much of the great preparations the King had made for the expedition to Scotland; and said that, even if the King of France sent the 30,000 or 40,000 men to this coast, they (the English) did not care. On the other hand, the King (of England) had so thoroughly provided for the defence of his frontiers, that no matter what force the King of France might send, it could do no harm. We thought best not to contradict any of this, but simply observed that, nevertheless, peace would always be welcome, and would be much better than continuing the war. Princes, we said, were mortal, the same as other folks, and as God had made them tutors and administrators of their people, they could do nothing more honourable or appropriate than to pray to God for their peace and welfare. We mentioned, incidentally, that if the King (of England) remained long in the present state of things, he would spend an enormous treasure on the defence of Boulogne, without any advantage or recompense whatever. They seemed to admit this by saying that the King, having considered all points, including the repose of Christendom, was desirous of coming to an understanding for peace on honourable and reasonable conditions. We remarked that they appeared to us to adhere too closely to the conditions which had been proposed in the negotiations between the English ministers and Cardinal du Bellay. To this Paget replied, that he had spoken to the Emperor on that subject, and had proposed that his Majesty should adopt these conditions, or others, which he might be able to arrange.
They told us that, in addition to Dr. Carne, mentioned in our former letter, the Bishop of Westminster (fn. 6) who belongs to the Privy Council is to take part in the Conference of Gravelines, as commissioner; so that they will have four doctors on their side. They have said no more about sending Vaughan or the Court-master (Danvers ?) and we forgot to enquire whether they are to go to the Conference.
London, 27 April, 1545.


  • 1. Blank in original.
  • 2. Probably Ottavio Farnese is meant.
  • 3. Sir William Petre, Secretary of State.
  • 4. Stephen Vaughan.
  • 5. It is mentioned elsewhere in these papers that Henry's great stores of lead came from the roofs of the dismantled monasteries.
  • 6. Dr. Thirlby, afterwards Bishop of Ely.