Spain: April 1547, 16-30

Pages 80-86

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

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April 1547, 16–30

April 25. Simancas E. 644. The Emperor to Diego de Mendoza.
. . . Juan de Vega wrote that the Pope had replied to our representations about the transfer of the Council of Trent (to Bologna), as you will have heard. Since then the Nuncio received letters from the Pope, dated 5th instant, and requested audience of me on the 14th. When we saw him he began by complaining of Juan de Vega for having been in so great a hurry to despatch his courier bearing his Holiness' reply, without waiting for Cardinal Farnese's letters, or even for the matter to be finally decided. He said that either in order to fulfil this negotiation before you arrived in Rome, or for some other reason, Juan de Vega used more expedition than he would otherwise have done.
The Nuncio did his best to excuse his Holiness, by saying that the latter would be very glad for the Council to return to Trent, or any other place that might be considered desirable; but for the sake of preserving the prestige of the Council some delay must take place in its return. In the meanwhile he wished the prelates who still remained at Trent to proceed to Bologna, and there to arrange for the return of all of them to Trent. He on his own account could not compel them to return. The Nuncio begged us very earnestly to allow him to read the letter he had received from Rome. But it was very long and we said that, as it contained nothing beyond what he had already told us verbally it was not necessary.
With regard to Juan de Vega, we said that his (the Nuncio's) discourse had, so far as we could discover, added nothing to what Vega had already written to us. The talk of the Pope and his ministers was, as usual, nothing but words. It all ended in the announcement that he could not compel the Council to return to Trent. We added that we were unable to understand his Holiness' position: sometimes he claimed to be superior to the Council, and sometimes inferior, as in the present instance.
The Nuncio, in replying to this, endeavoured to dwell upon the authority of the Pope, but we told him that the present was not the time to discuss that point, nor would we enter into any such discussion, since it would in no way forward the redress which we now sought. What was most urgently needed at present was that the Council should return to Trent in any case, in accordance with the representations we had made so earnestly and so justly. The Nuncio continued his remarks and touched upon the security of the Council, saying that that point did not concern us, and should not be dealt with by us except at the request of the prelates. Bologna, he said, was a perfectly safe place, where the prelates could speak freely, to which we replied that we knew very well how far our authority extended, and what our duty was as Emperor with regard to the security of the Council, with or without the request of the prelates. The point, was therefore, not to be discussed.
The Nuncio once more repeated that, in any case, it would be advisable for us to direct the prelates still at Trent to go to Bologna, in order to preserve the prestige of the Council and avoid the inconvenience that might be caused by schism. We thought that his manner of saying this was objectionable, and we replied that we would direct them to go, not to Bologna alone, but to Rome itself, if necessary, and we would go personally thither with them to protect them, but we dwelt at length on the evil intentions and acts of the Pope, evident now to all the world.
The Nuncio then endeavoured to draw from us a statement as to what evil actions we referred to on the part of the Pope, but we only replied by asking him what good thing he ever did. He replied quickly that at least he (the Pope) did his best to live; which we said was quite true, as it was well known how careful he was about that, and how he strove to aggrandise his family and hoard up money. To effect this, we continued, he put aside all that which appertained to his office and dignity; but we still hoped that God would help us, though the Pope should fail us, and that He would direct all things to His service, perhaps more effectually than the Pope would like.
The Nuncio then endeavoured to excuse the Pope and justify him, by saying that, after all, his Holiness would not fail to do everything that he could to promote our interests, in the confidence that we should reciprocate his goodwill. He would go even to the extent of giving us the rochets of all the bishops in Christendom. We replied that we had no doubt that he would do that: give us the torn old rochets whilst he kept the money; in fact, we said, all we knew about him was that he was an obstinate old man. The Nuncio in reply to this said that if this was our opinion of his Holiness, it would be better to humour and satisfy him more than we did with regard to the German enterprise. In all the treaties that had been made the Pope was not even mentioned, and it would be well that the harshness with which his Holiness had been treated lately should be modified. We replied that we had always acted properly, as all the world could testify. Everybody knew how completely the Pope had failed to fulfil what was demanded by his office and dignity.
To some remark of the Nuncio about the Legates in reference to this, we could not help retorting, saying how much annoyed we were with Cardinal Santa Cruz and the bad offices he was constantly exercising against the interests of Christianity in general and our own in particular. We called the Cardinal a poltroon, and said that in due time he would see what we could do to him.
Leaving aside this matter of the Council, etc., the Nuncio passed to the subject of the coming of the legate Sfondrato. The Pope had decided to send him with the decision on several matters; amongst which was that of the church treasures and the mission of Don Juan de Mendoza, and that the decision would be such as to satisfy us. The Nuncio, in the course of his remarks, said that his Holiness had heard with sorrow what we had said about our not taking up arms against the King of England on his behalf. In reply to this we repeated our former declaration on the subject, in terms even clearer than before.
The Nuncio then spoke about the affairs of the Levant, exaggerating the news received of the fleet that the Turk was preparing for this year. We told him that we had information which was true, and we had no doubt that the Pope's news on the subject was inspired by his own wishes. The Nuncio began to reply to this and other points, but we cut him short by saying that we declined to dispute with him any longer. His manner of negotiating was such, we said, that it forced us to say things, which although they were true, we might avoid saying if we were not irritated. He had utterly wearied us, we continued, with his hollow words and inconclusive hairsplitting, and if we had thought that he had nothing better than this to say to us we should have refused him audience. He might understand clearly for the future, we told him, that we should decline to negotiate with him. If he wished to say anything further on the points referred to above he could speak with our ministers, who would reply to him. We then dismissed him.
The Nuncio afterwards spoke to the Bishop of Arras, to whom he repeated the conversation related above, with the exception of some details. After some discussion between them, which need not be reproduced here, the Bishop of Arras finally said that he was sorry that affairs between the Pope and ourselves had come to their present pass, especially at such times as these. But, he continued, our action in the matter was so completely justifiable that it might be repeated before the whole world. With regard to the question of the Council, the answer that he (the Bishop of Arras) had to give him on our behalf was that we had written you (i.e., Mendoza, the Imperial envoy in Rome) instructions as to what course you were to take with the Pope on the matter. Since in this last audience the Nuncio had advanced nothing that had not been heard before, the bishop told him that we did not see any reason for altering our instructions in any way, trusting still that his Holiness, in view of the good reasons advanced and constantly being added to as affairs progress, will act in accordance with our requests and order the Council to return to Trent. We have thought well to inform you thus in detail of what has passed, for your guidance. The Pope's people seem to make a great point of the assertion that the transfer of the Council (to Bologna) was adopted in due legal form. You will give them to understand that this is no longer a matter of importance, and need not be discussed, because the reason alleged for the change in any case, which was the epidemic, has ceased, and the thing to be done now is that the Council should return to Trent without more ado.
It was not considered desirable to give any answer, nor did the Nuncio ask for one, respecting the coming of the Legate, so that we expressed neither approval nor disapproval of it. By the summary which accompanies this you will learn of the victory which God has vouchsafed us against Duke John Frederick of Saxony. This victory (fn. 1) was so rapid, and was effected with so little injury to our side—not more than ten dead and wounded in all—that the divine hand is clearly discernable in it. You will spread the good news wherever necessary. In the presentation to churches sent to you by last post, the priory of Roncesvalles was entered for Don Francisco de Toledo. We have, however, no information here as to whether this preferment is usually submitted to the consistory as the others are, and we shall be glad if you will ascertain what is the customary course adopted, so as not to introduce any innovation which may increase the Pope's powers or consequence.
The camp near the river Albis in Saxony, 25 April, 1547.
April 27. Vienna Imp. Arch. Van der Delft to the Emperor.
Since my last of 2 of this month Paulin has been here, but as Secretary Paget had not returned from visiting his estates Paulin's audience was deferred, although his commission was amply sufficient, having been granted by the late Christian King (Francis I), who died whilst Paulin was on the road. Nevertheless Paget was summoned back in all haste, and in the meanwhile the Protector sent Secretary Mason to me with the copy of a clause from their new treaty with the French; Mason assuring me that it was his fault that I had not received the said extract earlier, as it was at least eight days since he had been instructed to bring it to me. I felt quite sure that this was only to excuse the fault of the Council, which had never even mentioned giving me a copy or letting me see what they had done to the advantage of your Majesty, although they boasted so much about it. The Protector had informed me that they had caused your Majesty to be advised of the same by their ambassador, and therefore it appeared to me that this compliment to me was only devised after they had heard of the death of the King of France.
After I had read the extract referred to, I asked him (Secretary Mason) whether he had nothing else to communicate to me touching your Majesty, since the Protector and Paget had told me that nothing had ever been done in England so much to your Majesty's advantage as had been done in this treaty, whereas, so far as regarded this article of which he had brought me a copy, I saw nothing whatever fresh in it. We had, I said, never suspected for a moment that they intended to contravene the treaty in force between your Majesty and them. Their treaty with your Majesty, moreover, I said, was so binding that it absolutely nullified and invalidated every other agreement in contravention of it, either present or future.
In order to draw from them some other particulars of their negotiations with the French, I told him (Secretary Mason) as my own opinion in confidence, that I thought very little indeed of their article, which seemed to me simply a piece of affectation, as there was not the slightest indication that the French, being sufficiently burdened as they were by the first treaty, were so hardly driven as to be obliged to accept this new treaty, in which your Majesty's interests were so expressly reserved, unless, indeed, Boulogne was to be surrendered to them in return or some other concession made to them. He (Mason) made no reply to this, but passed it over without appearing to notice it. In conclusion, I told him that my own impression was that all they had done was in order to bring about peace for themselves with the intention finally of siding with the stronger party.
After a long conversation on this point and other matters touching the new government, Mason told me that I should do well to talk very strongly on these subjects to Secretary Paget, as he was the most capable of the ministers and the best affected to the public welfare. He said that in doing this I should be performing a beneficial work, and he advised me to delay my going to Court until after Paget's return hither, as he had heard the cool reply which had recently been given to me in the Council, of which I duly advised your Majesty at the time. This Secretary Mason is considered here to be a very honest and influential man, and, indeed, I have always found him straightforward and reasonable. There was a rumour that he would be sent as an envoy to your Majesty in the place of the bishop of Westminster (Thirlby), but he (Mason) assured me that he had heard nothing whatever about it.
Since then Paulin has been with the Council to say that he had been recalled to France, but that he would return hither very shortly, whereupon he took his leave of them and departed on the following day. I have been informed that he (Paulin) brought with him credentials and powers not only from the late Christian King (Francis I), but from the present King of France (Henry II); and also private letters from M. de Vendome (Anthony de Bourbon), which probably were directed towards the proposed alliance with Madam Mary. Paulin, however, produced none of these credentials, having been instructed expressly by the present King and by Vendome himself to bring back all his records and documents. His extremely sudden departure gives rise to considerable fear in the minds of many of a war with France, especially as no envoy has come hither for the purpose of announcing the death of the late King, as it is believed has been done to your Majesty. It seems that these people (the English) whilst dissembling everything are continually busy making preparations and provisions for war.
Some days ago the Lord Admiral of England put out to sea with a certain number of vessels to encounter some English pirates, of whom the principal is one Thompson of Calais, who are accompanied by a good number of Scots and Frenchmen, and are holding by force a little island called Sorlinghe (Scilly), which was formerly uninhabited and desert, but now is well fortified by these said pirates, and fit for the safe accommodation of their ships, of which they have seven or eight by means of which they plunder all the vessels that go backwards and forwards from Spanish waters. No intelligence has yet been received of the exploit that may have been performed by the Lord Admiral, who is instructed, however, to pardon the pirates if they are willing to surrender voluntarily.
Five or six days before Paget's return the Chancellor of the ex-Duke of Saxony (Sturmius) and Dr. Brun came hither, which makes goodly people hope that Argentina (Strassburg) will have submitted to your Majesty, as Dr. Brun declared when he was leaving here that he would return hither if the town surrendered, although he still insists that this has not yet taken place. (fn. 2) They are asking for help in money, but I believe that their demand will not be so favourably received as their doctrine has been. In this latter respect things here are going daily from bad to worse, and really I see no hope whatever that this realm will submit of its own accord, since the evil inclinations of the people at large are highly approved of and defended by their rulers. In addition to this the King is being brought up in the same opinion, which many worthy people greatly deplore, Madam Mary, who always remains steadfast in the good and ancient faith, bearing her full part of the sorrow in this respect. Madam Mary is now separated from the Queen (Dowager Katherine Parr) and will shortly go to stay twelve miles from London for a time, (fn. 3) after which she will go into Norfolkshire, to the possessions formerly held by the Duke of Norfolk, who is still living in the Tower of London, as I am informed by a person who is certain of the truth of what he says. He tells me also that the Archbishop of Canterbury (Cranmer) at the request of the Duke visited the latter in the Tower and remained in discourse with him for more than two hours: and although the said Archbishop of Canterbury and the Duke have always been opposed to each other, tears were shed on both sides in this interview. It may be feared, however, that the Duke will profit little by it, because although the archbishop is a corypheus of these sects, everything is absolutely governed at the good pleasure of the Protector, the Earl of Warwick and Paget, and those who have business with them are very much dissatisfied with the way in which affairs are despatched, since right is so restricted and out of favour at present.
They have increased the number of Councillors by five, namely, the Earl of Arundel, the new marquis the brother of the Queen (i.e., William Parr, Marquis of Northampton), the Lord Warden of the Cinq Ports (Sir Thomas Cheyne), Dr. Petre and the Controller. A gentleman has been sent post from here to France named Master Brian (Sir Francis Brian), who was formerly English ambassador there. Some say that he is going there now in the same capacity, but I do not believe it.
London, 27 April, 1547.


  • 1. i.e., the battle of Mühlburg.
  • 2. Notwithstanding the efforts of the French to prevent it, Strassburg had submitted to the Emperor some weeks before this date.
  • 3. To Havering atte Bower, Essex.