Spain: July 1549, 1-15

Pages 396-403

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

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July 1549, 1–15

July 3. Vienna Imp. Arch. E. 17. Van der Delft to the Emperor. (fn. 1)
Sire; Since Paget's departure nothing new has occurred except that the peasants assembled in various places, as I wrote to your Majesty, persist in their demands. Their numbers grow daily and their cause has sympathisers, as it is a just cause and they commit no violence on anybody and profess themselves willing to obey the King and his laws. But they say that the violent usurpation of their rights committed by the nobles for their own pleasure and profit, compels them to seek some remedy for the extreme need in which they now are, having no pastures for their cattle and sheep as they once had, and many being reduced to a diet of bread and water, having tasted neither fish nor flesh for a long time past; all of which has become intolerable to them. The Lord Privy Seal (fn. 2), the Earl of Arundel and other members of the Council have been sent to speak to them, each one in that part of the country to which he belongs. But the peasants are still tearing down the enclosures of parks, and draining fish-ponds and preserves appropriated by the noblemen.
Another grievance of theirs is that all the cattle is in the hands of the nobles and the wealthy, who raise the price of victuals and of wool, as all are aware, including your Majesty's subjects, who have to pay much more for wool at Calais than is stipulated in the treaty of intercourse. (fn. 3) Your Majesty might order Paget to speak to the Chancellor on this subject, so that the said treaty of intercourse may be observed. The nobles, who used to hire their lands out en ammodiation (fn. 4) and gave the peasants means of earning their livelihood, now keep it all for themselves; and those commodities that used to be brought daily to the market by the labourers are now garnered in great quantities by the nobles. Some own flocks of 30,000 to 40,000 sheep; others still larger ones. The cattle is almost entirely in their hands and they sell it as they please. This was shown the other day in the case of two butchers from whom twenty sheep and three oxen were bought for the King's household; and, on inquiries being made as to the price, it was found that the butchers had paid to a certain nobleman 400 crowns for the 20 sheep and 72 crowns for the oxen; so that an ox, which used to cost 6 crowns, costs now at least 24. It is to be feared, Sire, that unless my Lords of the Council provide in time for the peasants' grievances, the common people of the towns who can no longer bear the dearness of food-stuffs and are already complaining about it, will rise in revolt as well as the peasants. I hear that the peasants in the West, in Cornwall, are proposing certain articles concerning religion, and asking to have the mass restored and to invalidate the last Parliament as unlawfully held during the King's minority. In that quarter their number is above 12,000, and they are increasing on all sides and drawing nearer to London. I suppose the King is going from Richmond to Windsor on that account, as there was no mention of any such plan before, and no provision was made for it.
I received the other day a letter from the Lady Mary, saying she had received a letter from the Protector and other members of the Council requesting her to send the controller of her household and one of her chaplains, a doctor in theology, to them in order that they might receive information on certain things which they desired her to know. In the belief that the matter concerned religion, she wrote to excuse their going; but when she asked my advice I wrote to her that it seemed better to me that one of them should go, so that we might be informed of their intentions, and I expressed a wish to speak to the man she might send, before he met the Council. But before my letter reached its destination the Council sent a letter to the controller (of her household) ordering him particularly to appear before them. The Lady Mary was seriously upset, and let him go; but soon afterwards my letter reached her, and she sent after him on the way to tell him to speak to me at all costs before going to court. He was with me the day before yesterday. I primed him to the best of my ability. He is a very worthy man and a loyal servant to his mistress. I am expecting him back in two or three days, and shall hear from him what happened; and I will inform your Majesty at once. I will also send information about Sebastian Cabot's business; a fresh hitch has occurred, but I am expecting an answer from him at any time now.
The news came from Scotland a few days ago that the English had taken by surprise a certain place where the French kept their victuals, and had burned and laid waste many villages and a large tract of open country. But we have heard since that the French routed more than 400 men, the greater part of them Italians, who were in an island opposite Leith, to fortify it. I believe this move may be identified with the Protector's plan, for he affirmed to me that before next Candlemas he would have the French in a bad way; and as the undertaking has failed, he will know his own error in being insufficiently provided in a matter of such importance.
I wrote to your Majesty that the Protector had told me that he would send commissioners to arrange matters with the French, and that the Earl of Southampton was to be one of them; but now I hear he is not to go. The rest have not gone either, yet; perhaps they are being kept back until the outcome of Controller Paget's negotiation is clear.
London, 3 July, 1549.
July 4. Simancas E. 503. The Emperor to the King and Queen of Bohemia. (fn. 5)
(Extract from a letter written in cipher.)
By your last letter of the 27th of last month we heard how an English pirate, followed by a French pirate who called himself a subject of the Princess of Scotland (sic) did great damage on the coast of Galicia with an armed vessel of thirty tons, taking a few small ships laden with iron and other merchandise and how diligently the Marques de Cortes, Governor of Galicia, provided in the hour of necessity by despatching an armed force after them, and by visiting all the harbours on the coast. This seems to us excellent, as also the orders sent by you to the various places on the sea-board. With regard to the necessity for arming a fleet to scour the seas and protect our subjects and vassals from loss, it is our intention, now as it has ever been, to secure free commerce and safety for them by protecting them from attacks, and for this purpose we have spared no pains in making repeated applications and complaints in France and England, and we have recently sent for the French ambassador resident here, and written to our ambassador in France ordering him to find some remedy, as the steps lately taken have proved fruitless, and the stolen goods have not been returned; besides which in truth we see no way of obtaining them, as the French are disguising and delaying the matter by all possible pretexts. Yet, knowing how justified are the complaints and the requests made by our subjects for protection, after full and due consideration of the matter as one of great importance, deeming moreover that owing to the present necessities we can not arm except with great difficulty nor maintain the fleet required for the purpose, the best and shortest way will be to give permission to those who have been robbed to arm for themselves and provide for the protection of their coasts, and pursue and seize from the pirates each one as much as he can get, in whatsoever part of the sea they may be found; and that the permission shall be assured and made lasting until they shall have recouped their losses, with the damages and the interest pertaining to them, in conformity with justice and reason. It will be necessary to order and provide the manner of their going, the better to ensure their success and effectiveness, for by splitting up or going singly harm might come to them. It is not convenient to give these people leave openly to make reprisals. You will therefore proceed as follows: obtain from each one a statement of his losses and injuries; when all the statements are verified, let it be given them to understand verbally that if they like to arm themselves and make good their losses they will be permitted to do so and not interfered with, for we have failed to obtain any redress for them, though our ambassadors in France and England have repeatedly solicited it, and special envoys have been sent by us for the purpose, but all in vain. You will send orders to the same effect to the members of our Council, so that if prizes are taken they may overlook it and take no steps against the apparent offenders. There are plenty of answers that may be made to any who may come asking for redress. Moreover, as it is likely that some of our people who have been robbed will be unable to arm for themselves or get sureties to enable them to do so, and will remain unpaid, you must assist them, and find others who will arm in their stead and in their name, in concert with the real victims. The corregidores must see to it that the transaction be carried through quietly so that it may not appear too plain and clear that the undertaking is on a footing so thorough and businesslike. Let the matter be put through at once and no time be lost. The (injured people) must receive no summons to court. Though we are trying to see to it from here that they (the English and French pirates) shall not collect in numbers and set out to waylay the Indian fleets, and we are attempting to compel them to behave more decently, yet we have heard recently that four vessels from the Indies, sailing to Spain with cargoes of sugar, skins and other merchandise, have been taken in to La Rochelle. The sailors and passengers were thrown into the sea and a few dead bodies were left on board. The guilty are described as pirates, and we are told that they cannot be caught and punished, but we find on the contrary that the French allow them to enter and leave their ports without interference or punishment, and do not even command them to return the goods they have stolen, though we are not at war. Send us particular information about everything that is ordered and accomplished in this matter. . . .
Brussels, 4 July, 1549.
July 9. Simancas E. 1318. Don Juan de Mendoza (fn. 6) to Prince Philip.
I received on the 5th of this month the letters which your Highness commanded should be written to me on the 18th of last month. I will not repeat the information I have sent to his Majesty about the conduct of affairs here, as your Highness is no doubt informed of it.
As to your Highness's commands concerning the despatch of the portraits: Titian has delivered the first, which I am sending by this courier. Two more copies have been made of it, in my opinion not so good as this one, but good, nevertheless, and likely to be still better when they leave the last hand, for Titian becomes more skilful from day to day. They will be quite finished, I believe, in a few days. May it please your Highness to inform me of the arrival of the one I am sending now, and if the others are to be sent to Flanders too.
Venice, 9 July, 1549.
July 9. Paris K. 1488. Simon Renard to the King and Queen of Bohemia.
(Extract.) . . It is true that the King of France has sent envoys to the Shareef to persuade him to make war on the Spanish coast, even offering to provide him with a fleet and promising to make a league with him. The conflagration between England and France is imminent. The King of France is collecting men to fight in Scotland directly the harvest is over, and to strengthen his army near Boulogne. His negotiations with the English have not been published for fear the Emperor may declare war on him because of the Swiss league. I know that four cantons have not joined, and the King of France is displeased about it, considering the large sums he has squandered to get it put through. He nourishes his intrigues in Germany as well as he can in the hope of robbing his Majesty of the fruits of victory and aiding the rebellion of the sea towns. The jousts and tourneys lately held in this city of Paris are now over. I will give no details as the full account is printed and I shall not fail to send it at once to your Highnesses, but I will say that goodly men came forth and showed themselves, and others too, who hardly deserved the name of men. They do not appear to have accomplished feats worthy of praise. The attack on a fort built in a certain island (fn. 7) was lately ordered by the King of France. The behaviour of the French infantry confirmed the opinion of them generally held, for the fort stands as firm now as it did before, and the infantry retired full of scorn and ridicule. I beseech your Highnesses to provide for my salary. I am sending a translation of the account of the pageant held for the King of France.
Paris, 9 July, 1549.
July 11. Simancas E. 503. Minute of the Letter written by Prince Philip to Edward VI.
We commend ourselves to you as truly and as lovingly as we may. We have received the letters you have been pleased to write to us through Mr. William Paget, Knight of your Order and Controller of your household, who laid before us all that you had charged him.
We have received singular pleasure and satisfaction in hearing from him, as we had heard already from your ambassador, of the joy and satisfaction you have received with the news of our good health and safe arrival in these Low Countries, which well correspond to the love and friendship which is and shall ever be between us, waxing, as we hope, ever stronger; we, for our part, not failing in this. As to the business which your said Councillor has charge to treat with the Emperor, my Lord and father, we shall be ever ready and inclined to further it, knowing the love and friendship his Majesty bears you. And because the said Councillor will inform you fully on this point we will not dwell further on it ourselves.
Brussels, 11 July, 1549.
July 11. Simancas E. 503. Minute of the Letter written by Prince Philip to the Protector.
Mr. William Paget has delivered to us your letters of the 10th of June and declared all that you had charged him to say. It has been very agreeable to us to hear the pleasure you say and we believe you feel for our safe arrival in the Low Countries. We hold in great esteem the willingness you profess to please us, and we shall not fail to correspond to it, assuring you that in all that concerns you, whenever we can please and gratify you, we will do it right willingly; as we shall prove when an opportunity occurs.
Brussels, 11 July, 1549.
July 12. Vienna Imp. Arch. F. 32. The Emperor to Simon Renard.
(Extract. Affairs of the Prince of Orange, etc.)
As to the league with the Switzers, we have no certain news about it as yet from our ministers in Switzerland. It appears by what one gathers from the French and their adherents that it is to be cast on the same lines as the league with the late King. Do your best to ascertain this and particularly the point you mentioned in your letter, that the state of Milan is reserved.
We do not consider it likely that the Swiss Confederations generally will undertake the obligation of defending territory occupied by the King of France and belonging to our cousin the Duke of Savoy. We will send you the information transmitted to us by our ministers to the Swiss Confederations. We suspect that you were not able to see the articles of the league because they were not favourable to the French, and such that they did not care to publish them. If this is the case we shall get them easily enough from the Switzers. It would have been well if you had reverted with the Constable to the last conversation you had with him concerning the league, insisting on what we wrote to you before, that the King had urged and pursued things contrary to the obligations of his friendship for us in his negotiations with the Switzers. You must bring the conversation round so that you may say this to him; adding that if the ministers of the King had acted up to the end in the manner that the Constable had told you, nothing inimical to us would have been done, and we should not have had any objection to the said league. There is no truth in the report published over there (in France) that we have called together a diet in the Grisons.
Those whom the Cardinal of England sent from Rome to England, to give his opinion on questions of religion, passed through here (on their way back). They have accomplished nothing, the English being firmly established in what they have recently innovated.
Concerning the Scottish ambassador's question to you, whether we would consider renewing the alliance with the Scots independently of England, you will adhere to the answer you have given him already, on the occasion of M. de Beures's letter, saying you have no power to negotiate until you receive fresh instructions. . (Repetitions of grievances about French attacks on Spanish and Flemish shipping, and complaints of the French at being refused an entrance in Flemish harbours.) . . . As to Controller Paget, nothing has been settled with him as yet. You will be informed of our decision with regard to his mission, so that you may use the knowledge and, if need be, make reply accordingly.
Brussels, 12 July, 1549.
July 14. Vienna Imp. Arch. F. 28. Simon Renard to the Emperor.
(Extract from a letter written in cipher.) . . . I have discovered to-day, Sire, that the King is marching 10 to 15,000 foot soldiers into Picardy with intentions to revictual Thérouanne and Ardres; and then burn and lay waste all the Terre d'Oye belonging to the English on this side of the Channel, of the Old Conquest and the New, as a revenge for the incursion made by the English towards Montreuil.
This fits in well with the Constable's assertions, that if the King of France is to make good the losses of your Majesty's subjects, he is resolved to do so by pursuing and harming the English everywhere, and paying no attention to any remonstrance that is made on this point, insisting that your Majesty cannot withhold help from the English if they ask for it for the defence of their territory of the Old Conquest, if you intend to observe the treaties you have made all around, and unless you wish to see your territory used as a threshing floor for both sides to thresh out their corn. The Fleming of Lorraine said the same to me, and that the King, the princes and noblemen are making general preparations.
Paris, 14 July, 1549.


  • 1. Partly written in cipher; the rest autograph.
  • 2. John, Lord Russell.
  • 3. One of the reasons for Paget's visit to the Emperor, given by the English Ambassador to the King of France, was that there had been difficulties with regard to the intercourse. See p. 390.
  • 4. According to the ancient laws of France this was a system of land tenure on a lease with rent payable in kind (ad modium dare); later a payment in money was substituted. Amoisonner was the more general form of the verb, while the rent itself was called the ammodiation. The name was applied to leaseholds and freeholds, and is used in this general sense in documents of the XIIIth century. It is incorrect to interpret it in the narrower sense of a farming-lease.
  • 5. Regents of Spain.
  • 6. Imperial Ambassador in Venice.
  • 7. Probably the English fort on Belle Ile.