Spain: December 1549

Pages 481-490

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

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December 1549

Dec. 5. Vienna Imp. Arch. F. 28. Simon Renard to the Emperor.
At the hour of his departure the King had news that a number of lansquenets from his fort near Boulogne had returned to Germany, and others gone over to the King of England's service. Those who remained were discontented with the King's commissaries and lieutenant in those parts because of the difficulty they found in obtaining provisions and of the general dearness of living, which was in no wise compensated by their pay, and it was becoming impossible to obtain supplies near the frontier or in Picardy, as the countryside had been impoverished by the King's last expedition there. This year has been a poor and lean one, which also works against the soldiers, and the peasants have been so pillaged and robbed, and the commissaries have committed such abuses—whether out of lack of administration or poverty—that unless the King sees to it all the lansquenets will desert the fort. Besides these tidings, news have come how the Rhinegrave has beheaded three or four of his men to warn the King of the danger threatening him and Louis Van Hebe, colonel of the lansquenets, because of the discontented spirit of his men, who are complaining loudly of the misery they are enduring, of the hard weather, of the constant, rough service they have to render, vigilantly defending the fort against the English, who are always watching for an opportunity of surprising and carrying it. At the same time the King heard that the English had sent 6,000 or 7,000 foot and 300 horse over to Calais, and meant to put them into Boulogne to strengthen the garrison under the command of the lord who is captain of the town, to try to recover Ambleteuse, which is supposed to be short of provisions, and wage war in that quarter at a time as unexpected and unfavourable to the French as they know the present season to be. These news have greatly troubled the King and his Council, and caused them to suspect that your Majesty and your ministers have tripped up the amicable negotiations that were proceeding between the French and English, of which I have already informed your Majesty. They believe that the English, had they had no understanding with, or hope of, your Majesty, would never have sent men across to Calais nor dared to contemplate continuing the war, for the French have been informed by spies come from England, that that kingdom is greatly reduced by rebellion and discord, division, inconstancy and sudden changes in government, by revolts of the subjects, punishment of errors in religion, want of money and means of obtaining it, by the youth of the King and sovereign lord, spirit of faction among the vassals and nobles, and by many other notable causes that often work the ruin and overthrow of kingdoms and provinces. So the King is of opinion that your Majesty has treated with the English ambassadors to his hurt, and promised help, assistance and tacit aid to continue the war for the furtherance of your own schemes, which he judges to be to fight him next year. The thing that is sorely puzzling the French is, that they are unable to discover what your Majesty means by your journey in Germany: what you intend to do next, and why you declared to the Estates of the Low Countries that you were returning to Germany to finish the action you had begun with regard to religion. After ripe discussion of these points, the King sent off M. d'Aumale with full powers to levy 500 men-at-arms and 10,000 foot to be sent to the fort, to pacify the lansquenets and take all necessary steps, first of all to prevent the English from undertaking or carrying out anything that might tarnish the King's reputation. M. d'Aumale set out on the first of this month with the Marquis du Maine, several gentlemen of the court, captains and others, and the men-at-arms are being hurried after him, though they are not as well equipped as might be desired, having no horses or mounts but old, broken-winded, rejected nags, no money for their pay, and no desire for martial exercise in the cold winter weather; and they use imprecations, asserting that bishops' benedictions are not what they stand in need of. I leave your Majesty to imagine how amazed the people are at seeing this sudden and hasty return to Picardy; and they think that all is lost and that this war will stir up your Majesty to fight over the Piedmont question. The wits are talking about the Pope's death and the election of a new one, saying that even were he a partisan of the French he could not do much against your Majesty in so short a time, that the Turk is not prepared to begin war at the King's instigation, that the understanding with moors and infidels does not promise much, and that the league with the Switzers is of less account than it would be if the cantons of Berne and Zurich had joined.
Meanwhile the King is having provisions and war supplies carted to Picardy and sending messengers to Brittany and Normandy to hurry on the building and arming of his ships. He intends, unless he is prevented, to follow d'Aumale and carry out his enterprise as soon as he can and the weather permits.
Vendôme's partisans say that d'Aumale's appointment is an insult to Vendôme, who is in charge of the government of Picardy and ought to have this commission as the King is not going in person; so that if Vendôme was displeased with the Constable before, he has double the reasons now because of the Constable's manifest ill-will towards him. According to the goldsmith, several people believe that Vendôme will not put up with this affront; but I do not attach much importance to the report, nor shall I unless I receive confirmation of it, especially as the news of the arrival of the English troops allowed of no delay, and Vendôme's absence from court would excuse d'Aumale's appointment.
Paris, 5 December, 1549.
Dec. 5. Vienna Imp. Arch. R. 9. Don Diego de Mendoza to the Emperor.
On the first of this month I wrote at length to your Majesty by M. de la Trullera (sic) and informed you of what was happening in the matter of the papal election, as your Majesty required of me in your letter of 20 November. Since then what has happened is that on the 2nd instant, after it had been decided that the voting should be made public, the Theatine Cardinal (fn. 1) leaped up with a prosecution, or articles of accusation, against the Cardinal of England (fn. 2) on the ground of certain errors in our religion, which threw the college into confusion. The Cardinal of England replied treating the Theatine as a madman; now laughing and now quoting Holy Scripture in his support, he defended himself so well that there were eight votes in favour of punishing the Theatine in person, and eighteen for withdrawing from his company as from that of an excommunicated man. At this point the question of secret voting was raised again because of this very occurrence, and was urged with the argument that as such important matters concerning a Cardinal might at any time arise, every one ought to be free to vote as he pleased. There were twenty votes in favour of this view, out of a total of sixty, and it is thought that the proposal will be carried next time, which will utterly destroy Farnese, because most of his votes are either Imperialist or French, and if the cardinals know they may vote in secret they will lose all respect and go each one his own way. That very night Farnese tried his skill in England's (i.e. Cardinal Pole's) favour, and found great resistance from the older and richer cardinals, but would like to get him elected by the help of the Holy Ghost. As I hear that he wants not many votes, I wrote to-day to the Cardinal of Jaén to favour him with his in order to attract some of the lukewarm. I believe the first scrutiny will be held to-morrow early. Three important alliances have been made against three persons: against England (i.e. Cardinal Pole) by those I have mentioned and the “Dissolutes”; against Santa Croce by certain Imperialists and partisans of Trani, Ridolfi and Salviati; and against Salviati by eleven Imperialists and nine partisans of Farnese.
To-day a slip of paper was found enclosed in a bit of tin and placed, by way of stuffing, under the wing of a capon that was taken out from the conclave; and on it written: “He who was sad has become joyful, because the liar has given him assurance.” Since then I learned by a note written by a cardinal that Santa Croce was complaining of Farnese and saying he was his enemy, upon which Farnese sent to him between two and six o'clock last night to be of good cheer, for if he (Farnese) was helping England (Pole), Sfondrato and Burgos, it was in order to keep his promise and preserve his house from ruin, but if, as he believed, it became clear that none of the three could be Pope, and if more French cardinals arrived, he assured Santa Croce that he would put his name forward and get him elected.
I think the first scrutiny will be held to-morrow morning at four, and as in good conscience, and without committing a grave breach, I cannot send any message to the conclave, and as Jaén cannot take one either, I shall put my secretary, Ayala, in as Jaén's man, which is legitimate, in order that he may declare your Majesty's wishes in detail, as your despatch came late, and try to lure a vote or two away from Salviati or Santa Croce, who are the most dangerous men at present. I fear that with all these conflicting elements we may be reduced to Ridolfi or some other of no importance.
To-day is the 4th, and at eight last night they showed me a note from within the conclave, and another this morning at dawn, saying that England and Sfondrato were going very high, and that Jaén ought to hurry. This morning at ten Jaén arrived, for I had sent him four couriers, and though exhausted with fatigue he went at once to the conclave, where all were glad of his arrival, for though he means one vote more he freed the rest of their fear of the Council, Imperialists and Farnese partisans by his appearance.
The French ambassador appeared this morning at sixteen o'clock (fn. 3) in the doorway of the conclave, and tumultuously, without observing due order, summoned the master of ceremonies and sent word to the cardinals, though without producing any letters or messenger, that he had news that his French cardinals had arrived on their way as far as Corsica, where they were obliged against their will to delay some time. On his master's behalf he therefore begged the cardinals to put off the election until Saturday at the least, and protested that if they refused, the King would not consider him whom they might choose without waiting for the Frenchmen as pope, or as having been canonically elected. After dinner he came back, thinking he had made a mistake in not observing due order and speaking insolently without obtaining any definite reply, and informed the cardinals that a gentleman of the King's had just arrived with news that the cardinals would be at Civitavecchia to-morrow. He also told me that they might be expected to-morrow at any hour, but I am unable to believe it because with the weather we are having now it would be impossible to get past Monte Argentaro, and I find several other reasons for doubting it, though it may be true. The cardinals have given the ambassador no real answer, but his manner of negotiating and his protest displeased all of them. Your Majesty will see what heed they pay to his message.
As it appeared to me and to other of your Majesty's servants that it would be well to encourage them to observe the laws, I called upon the cardinals-deputy this afternoon and gave them the letter, of which a copy (fn. 4) is enclosed in mine to your Majesty, and which is enough to meet the occasion.
Trani said that the King of France's ambassador told them that a pope should not be elected in a month; what I saw was that your Majesty's servants looked happy, and your enemies quite the opposite.
To-day I hear that England has obtained twenty-four votes, and needs twenty-eight. Sfondrato is credited with twenty-three, and Burgos with seventeen, but nothing lasting has been done yet.
The common voice out and inside is that England is almost Pope. God guide it as his service requires! What England replied to the Theatine was, that when the Council resolved to proceed against the Lutherans without hearing or waiting for them, he, in agreement with his colleagues, accepted the task of answering for them in a discussion in order that it might not be said that the Lutherans had been condemned without anyone being heard in their defence, and of this Santa Croce and Monte were witnesses, as well as a certain memorial they had given him in order that he should carry out what had been decreed. Santa Croce and Monte confirmed the truth of what England had said.
Monte appeared to-day in the examination, but did not rise high. Your Majesty will understand that these examinations or scrutinies are held by the different parties before proceeding to a (real) scrutiny, in order that, if it is seen that a candidature has no chance of success, votes may not be thrown away nor reputations injured.
To-day is the 5th. This morning I hear that England did not get beyond twenty-four votes, which is the sum of your Majesty's adherents and the Farnese partisans, with the exception of one vote, which I think is Cibo's. It is believed that he will be obstinate.
The weather has calmed down this morning for the Frenchmen's arrival. If they come we may expect to see a scrutiny every twenty-four hours.
Paris sent word to me before he left home that his instructions were to vote first for Lorraine, second for Ridolfi, third for himself, and fourth for Santa Croce, but that Salviati was not to be supported by the French party because they took him to be a friend of your Majesty's. Salviati has seventeen votes already, and, should the French support him, he would obtain twenty-four.
Now that they see that the weather is calming down for the Frenchmen, and that the seventeen votes are very stiff, the election may be postponed.
Rome, 5 December, 1549.
Dec. 17. Vienna Imp. Arch. F. 28. Simon Renard to the Emperor.
Sire: I would have sent messengers or couriers more often to your Majesty, as you were pleased to write to me to inform you of what was being said and done here with regard to the Pope's death, but that it seemed to me unnecessary. For your Majesty has silenced all talk by granting the French cardinals a passage through Italy, by the reply given to the French ambassador and confirmed by me in accordance with your commands, by the remonstrances made in your Majesty's name to the Roman consistory, and by the moderate conduct observed in Rome by your Majesty's ministers, thanks to which the election has been held in an unexpected manner, and up to the present I have heard nothing worth writing. In addition to this, since the first or second day of the present month, when the cardinals are said to have entered into conclave, the King has had no news save of the Duke of Ferrara's efforts to sway the election in his brother's favour, the simoniacal solicitude Salviati is said to be displaying to achieve this high degree, the less than canonical practices to which Cardinal Ridolfi has resorted in order to glorify his name and family, and much Italic gossip, most of which is wide of truth. And as I am informed that the creation of a new pope has been accomplished, and that the Cardinal of England (i.e. Reginald Pole) has been chosen and elected, I am immediately sending off the bearer of these letters; not that I doubt that your Majesty has received the news as quickly at Brussels as the King here at Fontainebleau, but in order to inform your Majesty, apart from the obligations and duties my office lays upon me, that while the cardinals were in conclave the King has been discussing at great length in his Council the qualities of the said Cardinal of England, who has been elected Pope. He has examined and inquired into the said Cardinal's prudence and learning, why he was banished from England, how he has shown himself disposed since he has been a cardinal, and what he is likely to prove to be in the administration of the papacy, in order to arrive at a decision, form hopes or fears and plan a course of conduct in case neither Salviati, Ferrara, Ridolfi or any other of that party were to be elected. According to what I have heard from various people with whom I have talked on the subject, the King has heard from certain persons that the Cardinal of England is full of good qualities and learning, and is a man who has always acted without passion or partiality in all that concerns the office of cardinal; that he left England to keep the Christian religion; that he received a pension from the late King of France at the time of his disasters; and that it might be thought he would feel obliged to France and allow his memory of benefits received to inspire him with gratitude if he became pope. Others have remonstrated to the King that it would not be fortunate at the present juncture if the choice were to fall upon the said Cardinal; for the memory of a pension he had once received from France ought not to make the French sure of him, things being as they were and open war between France and England, that piety and love of country would always count more than the pension, the Cardinal's prudence would never permit him to mature feelings of revenge against a man who was no more the cause of his banishment than the present King of England, and that he would naturally incline towards the English party. Others thought he would embrace the French side against your Majesty because, as they say, he was not considered or aided in his misfortunes. Others, again, said that his poverty of spirit and timidity were such that he would easily fall in with your Majesty's policy. The people outside the King's council who have heard of this argument and have secretly taken the liberty of discussing it, have come to the conclusion that its only cause is the Cardinal's prudence, which is enough to make the King and his Council fear he may follow the truth, for which your Majesty has always fought. Otherwise the King would not have shown himself so anxious as he did before Pope Paul's death to make a pope who should be devoted to his service. I do not know what the King is saying and planning now that the news have arrived, because I have had no time to inquire and am forced to send off the present bearer with the greatest despatch possible. However, Sire, the Lyons man has assured me that the King has remarked that if a pope such as he desires is not elected, he will at any rate take care that he never sees the colour of French money. I cannot believe that the result of this election can be agreeable to the King, dissemble as he may; but I leave it all to your Majesty's better judgment.
While the above-mentioned discussion was going on, and before the news of the creation had arrived, I consulted a learned person who neither knew nor knows that I am in your Majesty's service. This person told me that the pope to be elected would be an Imperialist, but would not live long nor reform the Church, but after him there should come an angelic pope, who would greatly remedy the state of Christendom, and your Majesty's name should shine out as never before.
The King left Anet for Fontainebleau, and arrived the day before yesterday, but he is only stopping a night or two, and has attended to no business at all except what concerns the war with England here and in Scotland. He has sent great quantities of ammunition, provisions and artillery to Picardy, and is despatching several captains who are to leave for Scotland in six or seven days with thirty ships and 300,000 francs; he has changed his mind about Peter Strozzi's and the Prior of Capua's journey to Italy, and has sent them to Dieppe to make all necessary preparations for the war. His plan is still to carry out an enterprise by sea in the spring or earlier, though as yet there are no news of the English troops sent to Calais having done anything. The rumour that your Majesty caused the amicable arrangement to be interrupted is still current.
The King is sorely puzzled over the delay of your Majesty's journey to Germany, and is discussing the matter in all its doubtful, uncertain and unexpected aspects, trying to discover its reason. Some attribute it to some slight attack of gout in your Majesty's hand, others say that the King of the Romans is disinclined to accept the proposal your Majesty is said to have made to him touching the election of our Prince (i.e. Philip) which they say was the main object of the journey, and by means of which arrangement the papacy was to be secured to his Majesty (i.e. the King of the Romans). I see no truth in the report, for these folk are always dreaming things and interpreting them as their whim dictates.
On leaving Paris I heard that the King wished to raise the value of gold coins, and to put the au soleil crowns at forty-six or forty-seven sols, and that for this reason the governors of the mints had been called together; but this is still uncertain.
Melun, 17 December, 1549.
Dec. 19. Vienna Imp. Arch. E. 17. Van der Delft to the Emperor.
Sire: Since my last letters of the 26th of last month, I have been unable to discover that any important decision or action has been taken by the Council, but only that Antonio Guidotti, the Florentine merchant employed by the English to sound the French on a possible means of making peace, or at any rate of calling a truce, returned here but was immediately sent back to France. However, I have not learned more about his instructions than that the English desire to depute several persons to treat with the French; it is said they are to be the Privy-Seal, Paget and Wotton. What makes me suspect that there are negotiations on foot is that they are still holding back the Earl of Huntingdon, who was appointed to command Boulogne and was to have left twelve days ago, and also that the English are not sending anything over to France for warlike operations, and all the captains who were summoned to report the number of men they could raise, have received no replies to the offers they made. Courtpennick is staying here in London with his 2,000 Germans who were recalled from Scotland for use in the Boulonnais, and has been very favourably received by the King, but one sees no particular preparations for taking revenge on the enemy or attempting anything beyond preserving Boulogne. All this looks as if the English intended to sell Boulogne in order to give colour to the peace they wish to make; for they would be hard put to it to defend it now that the town is almost shut off from all help.
Council meetings are being held daily in the house of the Earl of Warwick, who is keeping his room, as also the Earl of Southampton is doing, though because of a more evident illness.
No mention has as yet been made of restoring religion, and those who desired to see this step taken have been displeased to see that the Marquis of Dorset and the Bishop of Ely (fn. 5), both of them entirely won over to the new sect, have recently been admitted to the Council, which may well have been done by the Earl of Warwick in order to strengthen his party. The Earl, however, is showing no hint of his intentions, and will probably refrain from doing so until it is seen what the Protector's fate shall be. At present they are very busy with this last, for every day four or five of them go to the Tower to examine him, and they say he is to be accused publicly this week, and heard in court in his own defence. Though the common rumour has it that he will run no danger of death, and that the Earl of Warwick, who is a very changeable and unstable person, now shows him favour and has been won over by the Protector's wife, who is always in his house, I believe he will not escape.
The Lady Elisabeth, sister to the King, arrived at court the other day, was received with great pomp and triumph, and is continually with the King. It seems that they have a higher opinion of her for conforming with the others and observing the new decrees, than of the Lady Mary, who remains constant in the Catholic faith, and stays at her house twenty-eight miles from here without being either summoned or visited by the Council. And, Sire, since she foresaw the issue of this affair in her fear that God meant to punish this realm, and said: “He hath hardened the hearts of the Councillors as He did Pharaoh's,” she is still more fixed in her desire to get out of it and transport herself abroad, to become, as she says, hand-maiden to the Queen (i.e. the Queen Dowager of Hungary) and be free of danger once and for all. I comfort and reassure her as to all the troubles her imagination calls up; but, Sire, I clearly see that, unless religion is restored or better order observed, she will no longer accept any advice to put her trust in the Council's promises, because they have already shown bad faith and, above all, because your Majesty is so far away from this kingdom. Therefore, if it please your Majesty that I should remind the Council of what, as you wrote in your last letters, your Majesty said to the Lord Warden when he was abroad, in order to discover if the Council are still in the same mind as when Controller Paget declared that the Portuguese alliance was desired, I will take care to do so at the best and most convenient opportunity. Otherwise they will let the matter rest, and no one will speak of it or of the Lord Warden's report, as they are all very busy with questions more to their taste. In short, if the lady is not taken out of the kingdom by a marriage, your Majesty might well intervene; for, as she says, she has no other refuge in this world than your Majesty. So your Majesty will be pleased to let me know your pleasure on this point.
The Duke of Cleves has sent to the King of England Drossart de Montjoye and Dr. Croeser to obtain the payment of arrears of the pension that has here been accorded and granted to his sister (i.e. Anne of Cleves). The Duke has also sent me a letter asking me to favour them in their mission. It is thought there will be no difficulty.
Last Sunday the Order of the Garter was given to Lord Cobham, Deputy of Calais, and to Mr. Herbert, a Councillor.
The only news from Scotland are that before Courtpennick left that country with his company, the English demanded safe-conduct from the enemy that men from both sides, escorted by a number of horse, might meet and parley. The others granted the request, and when they were met together they remained a long time without saying anything, but finally the Englishman asked the Frenchman what he wanted. By way of reply the Frenchman put the same question, and with better reason, for the Englishman had demanded a safe-conduct. Then the Englishman asked the Frenchman if he wanted peace, and the Frenchman said: “Are you asking for it?” And so they separated without more communication; but this incident shows that the English are eagerly looking for a way out of the war.
London, 19 December, 1549.
Dec. 20. Vienna Imp. Arch. F. 28. Simon Renard to the Emperor.
Sire.: In my last letters I informed your Majesty of the preparations the King was making by land and sea to fight the English. He is continuing in like fashion now, having provisions and ammunition transported in the direction of Boulogne without interruption. He has had all the horses that could be found seized, and means to use them to revictual the forts, for lack of provisions has forced the French to abandon Blanquenay (fn. 6), the first fort taken from the English. There has been skirmishing near Ambleteuse with losses on both sides, and the French are thought to have had the worst of it. The French have tried to block up Boulogne harbour by sinking ships; but it appears that the English succeeded in removing and burning them, so that the attempt did no harm. In spite of preparations and hostile acts, Guidotti, the Florentine resident in England, has arrived in this court with a definite commission from the King of England to treat for peace, and is proposing, by way of means of effecting it, the marriage of the King of England with the King of France's eldest daughter, and other conditions which I have been unable to ascertain. However, I know for certain that when Guidotti passed through this town of Melun, he said he was carrying a solution of all difficulties, and was confident of a better journey than his former one. It is thought that the fresh commotions and factions in England caused Guidotti's mission; and I will do my best to ascertain what he negotiates.
Melun, 20 December, 1549.


  • 1. Pietro Caraffa, later Pope Paul IV.
  • 2. Reginald Pole.
  • 3. Le venti-quattro in Italy still means sun-down, and le venti-tre one hour before sun-down. It would seem that “sixteen o'clock” meant eight hours before sundown; in December from eight to nine in the morning.
  • 4. The copy is to be found in the same bundle (Vienna, R. 9). In it Don Diego says he is certain the cardinals will not infringe the laws, according to which conclaves must not be interfered with, but thinks he may as well encourage them to scrupulous observation of these laws.
  • 5. Dr. Thomas Goodrich.
  • 6. Blanquenay appears to be Blackness.