Spain: June 1547, 1-15

Pages 94-100

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

This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. All rights reserved.


June 1547, 1–15

June 1. Simancas E. 75. Prince Philip to the Emperor.
(Extracts.) With regard to the gold and silver of the churches, I note what your Majesty is pleased to reply and the resolution you have adopted, notwithstanding the inconveniences and difficulty set forth in the report sent to you on the subject. Before replying thereto I wish to assure your Majesty that the representations made to you from here were not prompted by a desire to raise obstacles or to invent objections, but because it appeared necessary to set before your Majesty all the aspects of the question, in order that you might be able to avoid the difficulties which it was feared might result. This course was adopted out of the earnest zeal and goodwill borne by all the Councillors who were convened to discuss the question.
In accordance with your Majesty's new instructions the Councillors have been again summoned to discuss anew the procedure that will be most advantageous in carrying the plan into effect without scandal when the bull may arrive from the Pope authorising it. Your Majesty's letter was read to the Council of State in my presence, and it was decided that the question should be first discussed in the Royal Council, as that Council will have to execute the decree when the time arrives. It was agreed also that the Council of Finance should consider it, in consequence of the experience of its members in similar cases. These two Councils were, therefore, ordered to discuss the matter and to report to me. The Patriarch (of the Indies) came and gave me an account of their deliberations. They submitted to me that the evils set before your Majesty previously as being the probable outcome of the measure, were, in their opinion, quite as pressing, or more, so than ever: and that still greater evils had since occurred to the members; but nevertheless as at present they did not know upon what terms and with what limitations the bull would be conceded, they were unable to give any valuable opinion, as they might do after they had seen the bull. If the latter were worded in one way it would necessitate a certain form of procedure, and if in another way different means would have to be adopted. Since, however, your Majesty had sent such precise orders, the Councillors were constrained to say that in their opinion the prelates and provincials should not be assembled until the bull was here; and on no account should they be given any hint of what was being discussed, as this would put them into possession of the project, and although some of them are zealous and desirous of serving your Majesty, there are others who as soon as they got wind of it would arrange for all the treasure to be hidden.
When the moment came to execute the decree trustworthy persons should be sent, in the opinion of the Councillors, to the prelates and provincials and even to the chapters, with letters informing them of the great enterprise your Majesty has in hand; how good and saintly it is, and how conducive to the interests of our holy faith as well as to the peace and prosperity of Spain. Your Majesty's great need should be dwelt upon, and they (i.e., the ecclesiastics) should be told that you can look to nowhere else for aid, every part of your dominions being so utterly exhausted, together with other arguments that will occur at the time the letters are drafted. By this means the affair may be promoted with less scandal and difficulty than otherwise. The Councillors, however, still persisted that they must see the bull itself before they could devise a regular scheme for the execution of the project.
After I had heard this decision of the two Councils, I ordered the Council of State and the Patriarch (of the Indies) to debate the question in my presence. They agreed that it was still advisable that the great difficulties which they feared might result from this means of raising money, should be urged upon your Majesty, the difficulties set forth in the previous letter being in their opinion not by any means the most dangerous. Others more grave would not be evident until the plan was actually carried into effect. One amongst many of these was that we have to hold a sitting of the Cortes of the realm of Aragon, and the whole benefit we hope to gain by doing so would be lost if they had an inkling of this plan. The Cortes would be sure in such case before they closed to demand a charter or guarantee against the execution of the project, and it might cause trouble with regard to the Cortes of Castile if they had to be summoned. If your Majesty, on the other hand, were to order the project only to be executed in the realms of Castile and not in those of Aragon, the same inconvenience would arise when the Aragonese heard of its being done. On this account it is urged that the prelates and provincials should certainly not be given the slightest hint of the plan. They are so numerous that it would be impossible to keep it secret, and its revelation would render it entirely ineffectual, both because of the action of the Cortes already mentioned, and because the treasure would be hidden before it could be collected. It is quite probable also that the effect of prior publicity would be that his Holiness might be influenced to hold back the bull, as has been done in other similar cases.
It is indeed thought here that your Majesty should write to Rome that the matter must be dealt with secretly there if possible, at least until the bull arrives in Spain. Much depends upon this point of secrecy. The Council of State were of the same opinion as the other Councils, that it was impossible for them to give a valuable decision as to the best means for carrying the plan into effect until they had seen the tenour and wording of the bull itself. When the clauses and limitations are before them they will be able to suggest a way to put them into execution, and when the bull should arrive the Councillors promised to do this to the best of their ability, drafting letters to the prelates, chapters, etc., to tell them how to proceed, but without assembling them, which they think should be avoided in any case, as full experience exists to show how fruitless such gatherings are. Some of the Councillors were of opinion that the plan might be made to appear more justifiable and fairer, if it were announced that your Majesty intended simply to borrow the treasure for the purposes of your enterprise, but that it would be restored when you found yourself able to repay it, but this view was not adopted by the majority, because of the obvious and grave difficulties to which it would give rise, and also because the ecclesiastics would expect all sorts of warrants and bonds and promises that there would be no end of it.
These are the conclusions arrived at by the Council of State as well as by the other Councils, but your Majesty's orders in any case shall be obeyed, and as soon as the bull arrives, they will all apply themselves to devise the best way of executing it; as they are unable to do now until the clauses are known to them. Their principal dependence is upon the penalties the bull imposes to compel the ecclesiastics, etc., to obey the decree, and the censures of conscience declared for those who conceal the treasure. Without such penalties and censures it would be very difficult to carry the decree into effect.
Guadalajara, 1 June, 1547.
June 2. Vienna Archives. The Queen Dowager to Van der Delft.
We send you herewith some letters from his imperial Majesty the Emperor, which we have opened to inform ourselves of the contents. You will forthwith, with all diligence and dexterity, forward the business explained in the letters, and duly advise his Majesty of what you may be able to discover, and also of the conduct of the principal ministers of the realm (England). According to the rumours current here, these ministers appear to have abandoned all Christian decency, and profess quite openly the doctrines of the Sacramentarians, despoiling the churches and overthrowing all churchmen. We wish you to write, telling us what you have heard about this. Inform us also whether any Parliament has been held since the death of King Henry, and, if so, what constitutions have been made there. Let us know if they have confirmed the old customs, dues, etc. (tallieux), which were voted to the late King for his life, and whether any new Lord Chancellor was appointed at Whitsuntide.
We have on former occasions requested you to set forth the continual complaints that we are receiving from Flemish subjects who possess estates in the Boulognais and who cannot wait until they (the English) have come to an agreement with the French, for the restitution of their properties. We do not know whether this procrastination is to be interpreted as a refusal to restore the estates; but we can hardly believe that they would refuse the claims of his Majesty's subjects, so fully justified and reasonable as they are. But, nevertheless, we are extremely desirous of knowing finally what they (the English Government) intend to do in the matter, that we may give the Flemish subjects some sort of answer.
We are also sending you a petition presented by the injured Flemish merchants, who are really losing all patience, and we can only say that if they (the English Government) will not make any provision in the matter, we shall then send the petition to the Emperor in order that his Majesty may give us his instructions as to how we are to proceed. We fear that in such case his Majesty will greatly resent that after so many efforts have been made we have been powerless to obtain from the Protector and the English Government any satisfactory settlement. Nevertheless, before proceeding to this extremity, we request you once more to set forth the grievances of these merchants, and to inform us in due course of the reply you receive, in order that we may then submit the matter to his imperial Majesty and await his commands.
Please inform us also if the Scots have still any ambassadors in England, and how they get on together. We are much in doubt whether they are not pretending to be at war with them (the Scots) to prevent us from making an arrangement with them.
Tournoult, 2 June, 1547.
June 10. Vienna Imp. Arch. Eustace Chapuys (fn. 1) to the Emperor.
With all humility I recommend myself to the good favour of your sacred and invincible Majesty.
Sire. Finding myself three days since at Liege for the purpose of testing the virtue of a certain spring, in the hope that at least it might alleviate my malady, I was honoured by receiving letters from your Majesty dated 21st of last month. As they were in cipher and I had not my cipher-key with me, having left it behind me at Louvain, I started out at once on my return hither, in order to learn your Majesty's commands and obey them to the full extent of my power.
After using the utmost diligence, I have arrived here, Sire, this afternoon, and have learnt from the decipher of the said letters that the good pleasure of your Majesty is that I should furnish you with information as to the negotiations that formerly took place relative to the then proposed marriage of the Infante Don Luis of Portugal and the Princess (Mary) of England, during the lifetime of the late King, and to give you my opinion thereon.
I am very sorry, Sire, not to be able to satisfy your Majesty's commands entirely, for the affair happened so long ago, and even whilst the negotiations were in progress my mind could not conceive the possibility of any good result coming from them. As a consequence I did not at the time make any great effort to fix the details of the affair in my mind or memory. My recollections, moreover, such as they are, cannot be reinforced by reference to documents, as I was not in the habit of making written notes of such negotiations, in view of the danger that might arise from them, which I considered outweighed the advantages. I was writing, moreover, to so virtuous a prince that there was no danger of my communications being tampered with, and no need for me to keep copies for the aid of my own memory, since he who has no desire to disguise matters always recollects the truth. My forgetfulness of the details, too, may the more easily be tolerated considering my long and continued indisposition.
Nevertheless, in obedience to your Majesty's commands, I will set down summarily what I can recollect; which in the first place is that the late King of England and his Council put forward as their first standpoint that the respect and honour due to ladies demanded that they should be sought with all ceremony and solemnity and not offered. In consequence of this position Don Diego de Mendoza was sent to England. (fn. 2) The second contention of the King and Council of England was that the King of Portugal, or in default of him, your Majesty, should settle a revenue of at least fifty or sixty thousand ducats upon the Infante Don Luis, with a household and position adequate to his rank, and that he should settle as a dowry upon the Princess herself a sum of twenty-five thousand ducats or thereabouts. The third contention of the English was that the Infante Don Luis should confirm (i.e., accept) all the statutes made with regard to the divorce (of Katharine of Aragon) and all other things concerning the legitimacy and right of succession of the Princess. (fn. 3) The fourth contention was that the King of England demanded that on no account should there be any talk of a dispensation for the marriage to be granted by the Pope, in respect of any consanguinity that existed between the Infante Don Luis and the Princess.
The two last points were those that were taken by the English as a pretext for breaking off the negotiations, although, as I have said, neither the King of England nor his Council, whatever appearance they may have put on, ever had the slightest intention of carrying the matter to a conclusion. They had, indeed, rejected the proposal long before the rebellion in the north of England, although when this took place they reopened the proposal themselves, because they were in apprehension at the time at the condition of their affairs.
Sire, with regard to the second point contained in your Majesty's said letters, in which you direct me to give you my pure and simple opinion with regard to the marriage above-mentioned: although my mind does not extend far enough to give any worthy opinion, yet to obey your Majesty's command I humbly say what I think; under all due correction and protestation. It seems to me that there is no probability of this marriage being brought about during the minority of this King (Edward VI); because the present rulers of England, even if they found no other obstacles to the marriage, would stand out much more obstinately even than the late King did for these two latter conditions of which I have spoken. In addition to this they will be a prey to an infinitely greater amount of fear and suspicion, for a thousand reasons, than the late King (Henry) was, as your Majesty with your incomparable wisdom will understand far better than anyone else living. I will say nothing of the need that would arise for them to disburse a great sum of money, even if for nothing else for the restitution of the dowry of the late good Queen Katharine (of Aragon) though this alone would be an amply sufficient reason for the marriage negotiations coming to nothing.
The men who at present manage affairs in England would not, and dare not, in the present condition of their affairs send out of the country any such sum of money. On the contrary, they are striving per fas et nefas to fill the King's coffers and their own, and if they want to avoid entering into the question of the proposed marriage they will be in no difficulty for finding an honest excuse, in the minority of the King, their master. Or perhaps they may avoid the matter on the ground of other difficulties of such a marriage during the King's minority, in order not to seem tacitly to shut the door against any other match for the Princess: and to this avoidance of the proposal the rulers might well add another reason, even more peremptory and important, namely, that it would be a great imputation upon them to conclude such an agreement as that of the marriage in question, in view of the fact that the late King, so sage, prudent and experienced a statesman, had rejected it formerly.
I fully believe that they will not break off the negotiations promptly, but would rather take pleasure in entertaining and carrying them on, for the sake of augmenting their own importance, both in the eyes of their neighbours and in those of their own people, and in the belief even that they might be able to get some advantage out of it. In view of what I have ventured to set forth above, it may seem superfluous, to discuss the third clause in your Majesty's aforesaid letters, with regard to the best means to be adopted for initiating and promoting such negotiations afresh.
But, since it is a matter that could hardly have dangerous consequences, it might be advisable for us to use such negotiations as a means for breaking off or diverting any other proposals for the marriage of the Princess if it be true, as the rumour goes, that they are thinking of bestowing her in England, or otherwise. The negotiations might either in this direction or some other be secretly used advantageously, and at all events they would be useful in discovering the tendencies and sympathies of others, for the guidance of Don Luis, if with a knowledge of the obstacles he still desires to renew the negotiations. It will be most welcome also to the Princess Mary herself, who has no other desire or hope than to be bestowed at the hands of your Majesty. For her sake, Sire, under correction, I submit that advances might be made to revive the negotiation.
The most convenient way of doing this would be to send some special envoy to England for the purpose of formally demanding the hand of the Princess, in the name of the Prince of Portugal; but if the latter has any scruples about opening the matter by sending a special envoy himself, as will probably be the case considering what he wrote when the affair was in hand before, the special envoy might be sent in the name of your Majesty. In that case the demand would be presented not as if your Majesty was the principal author of the business, but rather as giving them to understand that you were acting at the very urgent request of the King of Portugal and the Infante Don Luis, a request that you had acceded to in consideration of the duty you owed to both parties, and more especially to the Princess Mary, who could not be more advantageously matched than as proposed; you were moved, moreover, by your friendship for the King of England, whom you held in the same regard as a son, and would not in any case place before him any alliance for his sister but the best. If they have an idea or conjecture that your Majesty is the originator of the proposal it will only make them more suspicious and they will draw back.
Sire. In order not to delay further the reply in view of the already long tardance that has taken place both in the transmission and delivery of the letters, and in consequence of my absence from Louvain, I have written this letter with such haste that I have hardly given myself time to read it over, and I most humbly supplicate your Majesty, with your clemency and inexpressible wisdom to make up for my simplicity and ignorance and to pardon my carelessness.
Louvain, 10 June, 1547.


  • 1. This old diplomatist, whose letters fill several earlier volumes of the Calendar, had represented the Emperor in England for many years and had now retired, dreadfully afflicted with gout, to his home at Louvain. His long experience of English affairs was frequently drawn upon by the Emperor.
  • 2. The famous author and diplomatist, Don Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, came to England for the negotiations in question in May, 1537, and the whole matter may be followed in detail in Vol. V of this Calendar, in the Henry VIII of the same date, 1536–38, and in the Harl. MSS., B.M., 282.
  • 3. It may perhaps be hardly necessary to say that this was the principal stumbling-block to the match and rendered the negotiations fruitless.