Spain: February 1547, 1-10

Pages 14-21

Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 9, 1547-1549. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1912.

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February 1547, 1–10

Feb. 6. Vienna Imp. Arch. The Queen Dowager to Van der Delft.
We received this morning your letters announcing the death of the King of England, and we immediately despatched a special courier to his Majesty the Emperor. We have lost no time over this, as previous to the arrival of your courier no news whatever of the event had reached here. Even the English ambassador resident here (Dr. Carne) assures us that he had received no word of it.
Since it has pleased God to work His will upon the King, it will be necessary for you to do your best to temporise with them there as far as possible pending the receipt of a reply to your letters, from his imperial Majesty. You will in the meanwhile entertain the members of the Council with fair words and courteous generalities; and in order to assist you in this as far as we may, we are sending you herewith letters of credence to the Councillors, authorising you to condole with them in our name on the loss of their King. You may say that we have felt this bereavement with the sorrow due to such a prince as he was, and so good a friend and neighbour to his Majesty the Emperor and his dominions. As we have always maintained good and perfect amity with the late King we are desirous of continuing in the same course perpetually with his successor. They (the Councillors), you may say, will find no falling off from this, either on the part of the Emperor or ourselves, as they will without doubt be amply assured as soon as possible by his Majesty himself after the news of the late King's death reaches him.
We make no mention at present of the young Prince, as we are ignorant as yet whether or not he will be recognised as King, and we await intelligence of the Emperor's intentions on the matter. We likewise refrain from sending you any letters for our cousin the Princess Mary, as we do not know yet how she will be treated. Nevertheless, pending the arrival of instructions from the Emperor, do not fail to keep a constant watch upon the behaviour of the rulers of the realm, and also upon any intrigues that the French may carry on, as peradventure they may think that this change in the government of England will give them an opportunity of re-opening the question of the restitution of Boulogne. Keep a sharp eye also on their (the English Councillors') behaviour towards the Scots, and inform us from time to time of what you may hear.
As the suggestion made by Secretary Paget that an attempt might be made to bring about an agreement between the Emperor and the ex-Elector of Saxony and the Landgrave of Hesse thus for the present falls through, it will be necessary for you also to keep a vigilant regard upon the treatment of the representatives who were sent to England by the said ex-Elector and the Landgrave.
Buichs, 6 February, 1547.
Feb. 8. Vienna Imp. Arch. Report from the Queen Dowager's Secretary to the Flemish Council.
On the 8 February, 1547, an English gentleman arrived at Valenciennes and addressed himself to the Queen (Dowager), bringing with him two letters from the new King of England; one of them announcing that the King was continuing and confirming Dr. Edward Carne in his commission as resident ambassador in her Majesty's Court. The second letter was one of credence to her Majesty in favour of the bearer, who in virtue thereof represented to the Queen that he had been sent by the young King his master and his government to the Emperor, for the purpose of delivering to his Majesty the message which the late King had ordered to be conveyed to him.
The envoy continued that he had been instructed to visit the Queen (Dowager) on his way towards the Emperor, for the purpose of informing her of the very sad news of the passing of the late King of England. The King, he said, had died as a good Christian on the 8th of last month, and in his last extremity he had ordered that an envoy should be sent to the Emperor to carry his final recommendations to him, and to pray him, in consideration of the close and sincere friendship that had always existed between them, to be good enough to continue the same relations towards his young son, whom he had enjoined never to depart from the alliance with the Emperor, but on the contrary to draw it closer and increase it. The King now dead earnestly prayed his imperial Majesty to consent to be the protector of the young King and his realm, in the same way as he (King Henry) had always intended to be the protector of the Emperor's son, the Prince of Spain, if fate had decreed that his imperial Majesty should die before him. The late King had also declared, that as her Majesty the Queen (Dowager) had always been a mediatrix in the said true and sincere friendship between the Emperor and himself, he prayed her to continue to be a means for its uninterrupted observance and perpetuation, and for the good relations and neighbourship between his imperial Majesty and the young King of England.
Her Majesty replied to this address, saying that she would truly have wished that the envoy had been sent with more agreeable news than those he brought, for the intelligence of the death of the King was extremely painful to her. Nevertheless, as it had pleased God the Father thus to ordain, there was no other course but to resign oneself to the divine will and to pray for the King's soul, which duty her Majesty would faithfully fulfil. She doubted not, she said, that the Emperor would receive the news of the King's death with marvellous sorrow, though she was equally sure that, having regard to the singular and perfect amity that had existed between them, the Emperor, whose affection towards the late King was very warm, would continue to bear the same feelings towards his son, to whom he would give such support and assistance as circumstances might render necessary. For her own part, her Majesty continued, she would always use her efforts in every way to maintain the good friendship referred to.
The gentleman in question then proceeded on his journey towards the Emperor, and the Queen informed him that if on his way back he would come to where she might be she would give him a written answer to his message, and would also send by him letters to the young King and his Council, or otherwise she would make similar communications through the imperial ambassador resident in England. (fn. 1)
Feb. 8. Simancas. E.R. 874. Juan de Vega (fn. 2) to the Emperor.
I wrote to your Majesty by Don Juan de Mendoza, and your Majesty will have been made acquainted by his relation and my letter with all that had passed previous to his departure. In obedience to the order I had received from your Majesty, I afterwards went to see his Holiness about the 500,000 ducats, and had much discussion with him on the subject. He complained that your Majesty had not granted audience to his Nuncio, and sent him no information as to the progress of affairs in Germany. I gave him such replies as seemed necessary, and he concluded by saying that he loved your Majesty and would see what could be done. He told me to speak to Farnese about it.
The next day, which was the feast of Candlemas, we happened (i.e., Cardinal Farnese and the writer) by chance to be close together at the Mass, as he was serving the Pope as assistant, and we had some talk on the matter, in which he promised that he would speak to the Pope and let me know later with what result. A couple of days afterwards he sent word to me by Maffeo that his Holiness had said that the redress must begin from the other side, and some attempt be made to satisfy his Holiness. I replied in a way that seemed to me suitable to such a cool and ineffectual mediation. To say the truth, everything that Farnese has done since his last return from Germany has partaken of this character.
The next day I sent word to the Pope that, if he would allow us, Don Francisco de Toledo and I would wait upon him for the purpose of fulfilling your Majesty's instruction brought by Don Francisco. The Pope replied that he was indisposed. I know not whether he was really so, or if it was intended simply to make a show of displeasure at your Majesty's treatment of his Nuncio, of which he complains. I am informed, however, to day that the Pope has asked whether I am going there. He shall be informed in the same terms as before that I wish to do so, and if he gives us an opportunity Don Francisco will submit to him the mission entrusted to him by your Majesty.
Soon after Count Fiesco left here last summer, a gentleman called the Chevalier Podrato, who was suspected of looking after Fiesco's affairs here, dropped a portion of a letter in cipher, a copy of which I send herewith, and also a deciphering of it made by one of the Duke of Florence's men, it having been sent to Florence for deciphering. It will be seen by this paper that the understanding with France was in such a condition that it has since doubtless become closer.
Since the article of “Justification” was promulgated, the Pope considers the Council (of Trent) at an end, and his friends are already saying that there will only be two more sessions. His Holiness is delighted at this, and his pleasure makes him less apprehensive and respectful than usual, because the National Council, which they think is certain to follow, inspires them with infinitely less fear than the universal one. This I hear from a person who is intimate with one of the principal men with whom the Pope discusses his affairs. It is the object they have aimed at for a long while, it having been resolved in the Pope's Council that this was the lesser evil. Germany, they say, is lost to them in any case, and that France will not hold one (i.e., a Council), as they feel sure that peace will not prevail between your Majesty and the King of France, and they (i.e., the Papal ministers) will always use their influence to prevent a Council from being held there (i.e., in France). In Spain, on the other hand, a Council might be held and not much risk be run in consequence, because they feel certain that the Pope's interests and wishes will be respected, owing to the strength of the religious feeling in the country. A Nuncio, moreover, would be sent to attend any such Council in Spain. In short, they are of opinion that in national Councils they incur no such peril to their dignity, or of being obliged to reform their mode of living in Rome, as they would do in a universal Council. As for what would be most advantageous, or otherwise, for the common welfare, and for the service of God, that is what they think least about.
Cardinal Santa Cruz wrote to the Pope recently, as I am informed by a person who saw his letter read, saying that a National Council would be held in Germany; and that judging from the gravity of the maladies now afflicting the Christian body, needing as they do much doctoring, he thought it would be well that each province should dress its own wounds, his Holiness sending a legate to each Council. It is said that the Pope was much pleased with this letter, as it exactly conformed to his own views, and he greatly praised the Cardinal and his opinion; although he dissented about sending a legate.
Rome, 7 February, 1547.
Since the above was written, and whilst the courier was about to start with it, his Holiness sent word to-day for Don Francisco and myself to go and see him. We went, and Don Francisco submitted his proposals in really appropriate terms. He also gave fitting answers to the Pope's remarks. I refer your Majesty to Don Francisco's report of the interview.
Rome, 8 February, 1547.
Feb. 10. Vienna Imp. Arch. Van der Delft to the Queen Dowager.
I have received by my man your Majesty's letters respecting the affair about which I despatched him to Flanders.
Having regard to the best interests of his Majesty the Emperor I will convey to Secretary Paget what your Majesty has instructed me to say on the matter in question, (fn. 3) which I find extremely appropriate and calculated honestly to satisfy him. It is, in good truth, most desirable that we should keep Paget in hand, for his authority in this country is great. But, nevertheless, Madam, the great change that has come over affairs here with the death of the King, and the consequent confusion, makes me think that these people will have less desire than before to interfere in the affairs of others, since they are at present so troubled about their own.
With regard to your Majesty's directions that I should write giving my opinion as to what course is best to be adopted, in order to maintain the good relations we have at present with the English, and if any means exists to prevent the latter from giving themselves up more completely than heretofore to the sectarianism that now afflicts them: and also in reply to your Majesty's enquiry as to whether it will be advisable to take any particular steps to entertain those who are at present the heads of the government, or those who may in future, be entrusted with the guardianship of the young Prince, I may say that your Majesty will have learned from my letter of the 31 January last the names of the men into whose hands the government of the realm and the custody of the Prince have fallen. I have, however, thought well to enclose also in the present letter a memorandum of them.
It is to be borne in mind, in the first place, that amongst these men there are four, who, according to present appearances, will take into their hands the entire direction of affairs. These are the earl of Hertford, the Lord Chancellor, the Lord Admiral and Paget. Each one of these will strive his best for his own advancement, and it is already evident that this is the case by the action of the earl of Hertford himself. He was simply appointed first of the Councillors by the testament of the late King, but he at once made himself the head of them all, and has assumed the title of Protector of the present King Edward and of his realm. He causes to be borne before him two gilt maces, and his intention is to create his brother (Sir Thomas Seymour) Lord Admiral, the object of this apparently being the more firmly to consolidate his authority, whilst the present Lord Admiral aspires to be Lord Chamberlain and Commander in Chief, which office was held previously by Hertford himself. The Lord Chancellor and Paget, who were in co-operation with them before the death of the late King, the one perhaps out of fear, and the other by reason of affection, will now uphold and sustain them for the sake of their own preservation and the augmentation of their authority, which must certainly increase, since the others are perfectly aware that without these two they can do but little. It thus seems probable that the earl of Hertford and the Lord Admiral (Dudley) will enjoy the honours and titles of rulers of the realm, whilst the Lord Chancellor and Paget will in reality have the entire management of affairs.
It is, of course, quite likely that some jealousy or rivalry may arise between the earl of Hertford and the Lord Admiral, because, although they both belong to the same sect they are nevertheless widely different in character: the Lord Admiral being of high courage will not willingly submit to his colleague. He is, moreover, in higher favour both with the people and with the nobles than the earl of Hertford, owing to his liberality and splendour. The Protector, on the other hand, is not so accomplished in this respect, and is indeed looked down upon by everybody as a dry, sour, opinionated man.
Your Majesty will see from what I have written that it will be advisable to keep these four personages at least satisfied and in good humour; and to this end I will do my utmost, as indeed I have hitherto done, not doubting that his Majesty (the Emperor) will entertain them in the usual way.
It is said, Madam, that they are in great anxiety to ensure themselves on the side of France, but I am strongly of opinion that they will never conclude any treaty with France to the, prejudice of the Emperor. The (German) Protestants, however may perhaps find more favour with them than heretofore; but I cannot believe that they will obtain any assistance against the Emperor, whose friendship is far more necessary to the English than theirs, as they (the English) know full well.
It is true that I have been informed in confidence that the bishop of Winchester (Stephen Gardiner) was not placed in the Council because he was the enemy of France, but my own opinion is that his exclusion is much more owing to the difference of his religion than to his partiality to the Emperor; because both the Lord Chancellor and Paget have never made any secret of their preference for the friendship of the Emperor to all others, and they are marvellously attached to the person of his Majesty, in the entire confidence that he will never fail them. Paget, indeed, told me that the amiable words the Emperor had deigned to address to him were firmly believed in by him, whereas if the other (by which expression he denoted the King of France) had used similar expressions towards him, he would have been very doubtful about them: for, said he, I hold the Emperor to be a true, good and loyal Prince to his word and faith.
On a subsequent occasion I was in conversation with the earl of Hertford and the latter asked me after the Emperor's affairs. I set forth the favourable progress and just causes of the war in Germany, and though he learnt from me that there was no change yet in their (the Lutherans') religion, he showed no signs of partiality, but on the contrary welcomed me effusively and made great offers. I have since then kept in the friendship of the Lord Admiral by acting as god father with him; so Madam, as you will see, they are all on very good terms with me, and I have left our affairs in their management, in order to keep them all attached to our interests, and if possible to avoid their complete abandonment to the sects. We shall be able to judge by the road they may take if it will be necessary to provide any further remedy for this. It will to some extent depend upon whether the French preparations are intended against them or against us. I expect, nevertheless, that your Majesties will consider it advisable to send some special personage hither with formal condolence, and at the same time to congratulate the new King on his coronation, which is to be solemnised on the twentieth of this month. The best course to pursue can then be decided upon. I have thought well, however, in any case, to describe in this letter to the best of my ability the way that things are going here, so that your Majesty may be guided thereby in your resolutions.
Paulin is still here, and persists in his assurances that his master the King of France will not make war on the English. The galley of Baron de Saint Blancart is being prepared to be taken back to France, but without the galley slaves.
The Scots (ambassadors) are also remaining here, and have sent to their government requesting that more ample commission should be given to them in consequence of the changed condition of affairs here brought about by the death of King Henry. All this looks like mere procrastination, but in the meanwhile these people (the English) are not slackening in their preparations of all sorts of warlike munitions, men and other necessary elements, both for Boulogne and Scotland.
On Monday next the body of the late King will be transferred to Windsor, where the interment will take place and the service be performed. They have sent me some cloth according to the usual custom, in order that I may attend the obsequies.
London, 10 February, 1547.
In a note enclosed with the above letter, the following list of the Council is given for the information of the Queen:—
The earl of Hertford, uncle of the Prince.
The archbishop of Canterbury (T. Cranmer).
The Lord Chancellor (Wriothesley).
The Great Master of the Household (W. Paulet, Lord St. John).
The Privy Seal (John, Lord Russell).
The Lord Admiral (John Dudley, Lord Viscount Lisle).
The bishop of Durham (Cuthbert Tunstal).
The Master of the Horse (Sir Anthony Browne).
Secretary Paget.
Dr. Wotton, English ambassador in France.
(fn. 4) Mr. Edward Wotton, his brother.
(fn. 5) The Lord Chief Justice.
(fn. 6) Mr. Herbert, brother-in-law of the Queen, formerly of the Chamber.
(fn. 7) Mr. Denny, the most confidential of any of the gentlemen of the chamber.
(fn. 8) Mr. Bromley.
(fn. 9) Mr. North, Chancellor of the Augmentation.


  • 1. The Queen Dowager was at the time absent from the seat of her government, and in such cases a summary of her proceedings was sent to the Privy Council at Brussels for record and reference.
  • 2. The Spanish ambassador in Rome who was pressing the Pope for aid against the German Reformers.
  • 3. See letters of 31 January from Van der Delft to the Emperor and to the Queen respecting Paget's suggestion that Henry should act as intermediary between Charles and the German Protestants.
  • 4. Sir Edward Wotton, Treasurer of Calais, of which place his brother-in-law, Sir Edward Belknap, was controller.
  • 5. Sir Edward Montague, Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas.
  • 6. Sir William Herbert, who had been the chief gentleman of the King's bedchamber. He was married to Anne, daughter of Sir Thomas Parr of Kendal, a sister of Queen Katharine Parr. He was noted for his ostentatious magnificence.
  • 7. Sir Anthony Denny, the greatest personal friend of Henry's latest days. He alone had the courage to announce to the King his impending death.
  • 8. Sir Thomas Bromley, a Justice of the Common Pleas and subsequently Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench.
  • 9. Sir Edward North, afterwards Lord North of Kirtling.