Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 4, 1524-1530. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1875.
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Introduction, Section 2.
The Amicable Loan.
War, real or pretended, involved the necessity of a loan. It offered the readiest means for recruiting an exhausted exchequer. The governments of Europe had outgrown the old fiscal arrangements of feudalism. Wars, conducted on a broader basis, and maintained by mercenary troops, at a great expence, outran at this time the ordinary means of mediæval kingdoms. Forced and precarious loans, unwillingly paid, and collected with difficulty, were a poor substitute for modern taxation; and no sovereign,—unless, like queen Elizabeth, he practised the utmost frugality, and studiously avoided war,—could sustain the drain on his finances, without having recourse to some extraordinary method for recruiting them. War was exclusively the King's affair. If his subjects were willing to contribute a portion of the expence, and reimburse him for his outlay, so much the better. If not, he had to endure the loss, and find the best remedy for it in his power. In England, at the time of which I am now speaking, no Parliament was sitting, and none was summoned; whether from the necessity of speedy action, or Wolsey's experience of the last Parliament, is uncertain. To provide for war, or even the appearance of it,—to raise the expences necessary for the administration, without trenching too much on the King's personal extravagance, or alarming his avarice,—money must be found. There were no bankers to farm or anticipate the revenue. In this difficulty, Wolsey hit upon an expedient, if not absolutely new, yet one that had never been enforced for many generations. This was an Amicable Loan; a project derived from the old feudal obligation of contributing aid to the King when he led an invasion in person. On this subject, Hall, the Chronicler, observes, (fn. 1) that "the Council remembering that it was determined that the King in proper person should pass the sea, they considered that above all things great treasure and plenty of money must needs be had in readiness. Wherefore by the Cardinal were devised strange commissions, and sent in the end of March to every shire, and commissioners appointed, which were the greatest men of every shire; and privy instructions sent to them to say (assay) and order the people; and the tenor was that the sixth part of every man's substance should without delay be paid, in money or plate, to the King, for the furniture of his war." In conformity with this resolution a commission was issued to the Cardinal as early as the 21st of March to treat with the city of London "for a subsidy for the French war, the King intending a personal invasion." (fn. 2)
How Wolsey urged it in the city.
The account of the Cardinal's interview with the mayor and corporation will be found in Hall. (fn. 3) Addressing them in a speech of considerable length, he concluded by saying, "Now I ask you this question, whether you think it convenient that the King should pass the sea with an army or not; for the King will do by the advice of his subjects." Many said, "Yes." "Well," said the Cardinal, "he must go like a prince, which cannot be without your aid." Then telling them how liberally the nobles and bishops had contributed, he proceeded in the following strain: "Forsooth, Sirs, I think half your substance were too little for so noble a prince;—not that he means to ask so much;—for he demands only 3s. 4d. in the pound on 50l. and upwards, 2s. 8d. on 20l. and upwards, and 1s. in the pound on 20s. and upwards; and this upon your own valuation." A feeble voice from the hall urged, in the general consternation, as citizens would urge, that business had decayed. "Sirs," said the Cardinal, "speak not to break what is concluded, for some shall not pay even a tenth,—and it were better that a few should suffer indigence than the King at this time should lack. Beware, therefore, and resist not, nor ruffle not in this case; otherwise it may fortune to cost some their heads." If the Chronicler has not exaggerated—a fault to which he is liable—it must be admitted that the Cardinal had a summary method of despatching business;—an art which has since been lost in the development of Parliamentary oratory. He eluded opposition by reserving all the action and most of the speaking to himself. The citizens grumbled and consented. "When this matter was opened through England," says Hall, "how the great men (fn. 4) took it was marvel; the poor cursed, the rich repugned, the light wits railed; but in conclusion all people cursed the Cardinal and his co-adherents, as subvertors of the laws and liberty of England."
The prejudices of Hall are too violent for his statements to be implicitly accepted wherever the Cardinal is concerned. Yet it is no new thing in our history for Englishmen to desire war without additional expenditure;—fleets and effective armies without "amicable loans" or taxation of any kind. A war with France, as we have seen, was no part of Wolsey's policy; but he was opposed by a strong war party in the Council, of whom Norfolk and Suffolk were the leaders; and when the King's inclinations took the same direction, undisguised opposition was impossible. It is beyond dispute that the war was a favorite project with the King. The moment that he heard of the news of the capture of Francis, his face was radiant with delight. When the Flemish commissioners communicated the intelligence on the 9th of March, they found him in high spirits, expressing his joy in a manner that "no prince could do better." In the course of their conversation he remarked, "Now is the time for the Emperor and myself to devise the means of getting full satisfaction from France. Not an hour is to be lost." (fn. 5) Certainly no minister of ordinary prudence would have entered on so romantic and hazardous an enterprise as the conquest of France, if left to his own discretion; least of all when no funds existed for the purpose, and he had to devise means that could not fail to render him unpopular. That was not Wolsey's policy; nor could he have been blind to the impracticability of such an undertaking, and the vast expence involved in it. But it was his misfortune to be regarded as the author and adviser of every measure that entered into the head of his master. The King's temper was daily growing more intractable. He was surrounded by favourites. Norfolk and Suffolk, Sir Francis Bryan and Sir Thomas Boleyn, attended him in his progresses and amusements, and so far from restraining his pleasures they encouraged his extravagance. All of them, with the exception, perhaps, of Boleyn, were in favor of war,—especially a war with France. It was their main opening to profit and distinction, and certainly the only method by which they could hope to counteract the Cardinal's influence. Events were now marching at a rapid pace, if they had not arrived already, which were to make them more powerful with the King than ever. Whether, then, this "amicable loan" had its origin with the King or with Wolsey, or was devised by the latter to satisfy the King's desire of invasion, it can scarcely be considered as emanating from him alone.
The unpopularity of the Loan visited on the Cardinal.
But that people "cursed the Cardinal," and vented their anger upon him without much reflection, is unquestionable. In a letter to Wolsey from archbishop Warham, one of the commissioners for Kent, we have clear indications of the popular feeling. He tells the Cardinal that it will be hard to raise the money required, as the late parliamentary grants were still in arrears. People complained, he said, that the late loan had not been repaid, nor would this be; that too much coin of the realm was already exported into Flanders; that France would only be enriched by the money spent there; and if the King conquered it, he would have to waste his time and his revenues in a foreign kingdom. They added, that all the sums already expended on the invasion of France had not gained the King a foot more land in it than his father had, "who lacked no riches or wisdom to have won that kingdom if he had thought it expedient." (fn. 6) In a subsequent letter, the Archbishop details the arguments he employed to persuade the people of his own county. The King trusted them most of his loving subjects, "forasmuch as his Grace was born in Kent." Their backwardness would have a bad effect upon others. If gentleness would not win them, they must leave their homes, and make their excuses to the Council;—no idle or unmeaning threat, for to appear before the Council was more costly than paying the tax. Neither threats nor flattery availed. At one time they alleged "poverty, with weeping tears;" at another, "they spoke cursedly," saying they should never have rest from such payments as long as some one was living. (fn. 7)
The clergy stand out.
They were encouraged in this dogged resolution by the clergy and religious orders. The Cardinal was employed at this time in suppressing some of the minor religious houses in Kent, Sussex, and Essex, for his great foundation at Oxford. The wisdom and grandeur of the scheme his contemporaries could not understand. Oppressed by debts and encumbrances of various kinds, the smaller religious houses had fallen into ruins—discipline was neglected—the inmates were poor and illiterate. Had the property of these religious foundations being diverted in time to the purposes of education, schools and colleges would have provided for all parts of England; but even the Reformers, who hated monastic institutions, hated Wolsey still more, and could not recognize in this act any better object than injustice and oppression. Monks and friars, detesting what he had done, or dreading what he might do, through his influence with the King and his legatine authority, set themselves actively to work to counteract his plans and hold them to popular dislike; and writers since, who should have known better, have adopted unhesitatingly these popular prejudices. (fn. 8) The secular clergy, poor and depressed, felt strongly the burthen of the loan, and pleaded poverty, more justly than any other class. The Archbishop found, upon inquiry, that there was great untowardness among them "to make contributions of the third part of their goods," as they alleged they had already to pay the subsidy granted in the last Convocation. "If they paid this third part they asserted they would be utterly destitute; and if the King should now, and also in time to come, thus, by his Grace's letters missive, privy seals, and other ways, hereafter require aid of the spiritualty, as oftentimes as it should please his Grace so to do, besides the grants of Convocation—to which they knowledge themselves to be bound,—the Church and the clergy would at length be put to such impossible charges as they should least be able to bear, to the utter undoing and destruction of the same." They complained further that they would be no longer able to maintain hospitality, or support their fathers and mothers; that for the sixteen years of this reign they had on an average contributed an annual tenth, and the Church was never before so continually oppressed. If the laity refused, they had greater reason, they said, to refuse also. (fn. 9) As might be expected, the religious houses were not more compliant, "sorely grudging" at the suppression of their religious foundations. They absolutely refused to give any answer until they had communicated with their different convents. (fn. 10) The letter conveying this news is remarkable for one of its concluding sentences. In suggesting that it might be as well to proceed no further at present, the Archbishop adds, "till this great matter of the King's grace be ended ... It hath been thought good policy in times past not to broach too many matters of displeasure at once." What was this great matter of the King's? What was it that seemed so likely to create displeasure?
The Amicable Loan.
"The amicable loan," as it was called, was differently received in different counties. In Cambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely it encountered a determined opposition. Three centuries have made very little change in the tone and style of popular grievances. Some pleaded losses by fire and cattle disease; some complained that they had over-rated themselves at the former assessment, in order to advance their names and their credit; others, that men well off before now believed they would not be worth a groat when their debts were discharged. But at last, says the bishop of Ely, (fn. 11) to whom we are indebted for these particulars, "by fair words and the rough handling of one or two," they were induced to yield, though with much dolour and lamentation, saying that they had no money, and would gladly sell their cattle and goods at half their value to obtain it. Still, as the time was pressing, the matter honorable, and the considerations pressed upon them weighty, they would do what they could to comply with the King's demands. "It would have made a man sorrowful," says the Bishop, "though he had a right hard heart, to hear their lamentation,—not only of the poor, but of those who were thought rich. Those who were before valued at 100l. or 200l. cannot now make 20 nobles in ready money, and some scarcely 40s." Coin and the precious metals in outlying districts had never been plentiful, and in the pressing demand now made for raising the loan, both were less casily obtained than ever. It was a difficulty the commissioners could not overcome.
In Norwich, where the duke of Norfolk sate as the chief commissioner, less unwillingness was evinced at first. The citizens admitted that an immediate invasion of France would be very advantageous, but it was not possible for them to furnish the sums required. The prosperity of their city, they said, depended on worsted and thread-making, "wrought by the hands of many a thousand," who must be paid weekly in ready money, which could not be spared for other purposes. They offered their gilt-plate at 4s. the oz., parcel gilt at 4s. 8d., and white plate at 3s. 4d. (fn. 12) A fortnight after the Duke was enabled to inform the Cardinal that he had met with so much success that all the people had consented to contribute, and no other parts of the county remained to be visited, except Lynn and Yarmouth, and one small hundred consisting of inhabitants assessed below 20l. (fn. 13) At the end of the month the Duke wrote again that he and the rest of the commissioners had taken such order that he thought the King would have good reason to be satisfied with the grant of that shire. He adds, however, that many had been put in hopes of being released from payment because it had been remoured that the inhabitants of London and other places had refused their consent to the assessment. "News came yesterday that you (Wolsey) had spoken on Wednesday with the Mayor of London and forty others, promising they should pay no more than they themselves would grant; on which the Mayor and Corporation of Norwich trusted that the Duke would extend to them the same indulgence." (fn. 14)
The Amicable Loan in a new stage.
It will be seen by these remarks that the King and his ministers had already been compelled to recede from their first demand, and make concessions. As the nature of these concessions has been misunderstood, and the King's proceedings generally misrepresented, it will be necessary to explain. The author of these misrepresentations, intentional or otherwise, was Hall the Chronicler. He states that when "the mischief" (meaning the popular discontent) was shown to the King, he remarked that he never knew of the demand, and therefore with great diligence sent his letters to the city of London and to all other places, in which he "gently wrote" that he would demand no sum certain, but such as his living subjects would grant him of their good minds toward the maintenance of his wars. Hall then proceeds to describe how Wolsey on the 26th April sent for the Mayor and Corporation of London to his place at Westminster, and after telling them how graciously the King had accepted their loving grant, added, "Then I kneeled down to his Grace, showing him both your good minds towards him, and also the charges "you continually sustain, the which, at my desire and petition, was content to call in and abrogate the same commission." The Cardinal concluded by assuring them that the King would take nothing of them except a benevolence or free grant. (fn. 15)
It is evidently the purpose of the Chronicler to insinuate doubts of the Cardinal's veracity, and leave his readers to infer that the King had been deceived by his minister. The notion has been adopted, not merely by historians, but by the great dramatist. What use he has made of this passage is familiar to all. It has stamped itself on the minds of his readers as an indubitable proof of the vanity and hypocrisy of the Cardinal, and of the good nature of the King, who was easily deceived by his unworthy favorite. It was the fashion of the sixteenth century to exculpate the King at the expence of the Cardinal, and attribute every unpopular measure of his reign to his minister. His devotion to his master, for whom he sacrificed all, left him none to vindicate his memory.
The facts connected with it.
For those who have studied the authentic materials of the times it is impossible to acquiesce in these misstatements. The King could not be ignorant either of this or any other important measure of his Privy Council. He had signed the commissions for the different counties, without which no commissioner would or could have acted, and therefore he could scarcely be ignorant of their contents. It was not his habit to trust his ministers implicitly, or register their decrees without examination. Such a notion is inconsistent with Henry's temper. At no time in his reign was he so completely governed by the Cardinal, as is often supposed. Quite the reverse. If the Tudors possessed one pre-eminent quality above all other sovereigns, it was their ability of seeing into the characters of the ministers they employed. If they had one fault in excess, it was their jealousy lest those ministers should become their masters; it was the ruthless insensibility with which they sacrificed those who had served them. Henry VIII. was no exception to this remark. He saw all despatches; he insisted on knowing the purport of every document which was laid before him. He exacted the most profound respect from all who approached him. In his palmiest days Wolsey no more forgot the deference due to his Sovereign, or ventured to overstep it, than the proudest noble would have ventured to issue orders in the King's name, or have used his royal authority, without his express permission. The King had not withdrawn the commission, in the sense of abandoning the loan, as Hall would lead his readers to suppose. He had not taken any such step to relieve the oppression of his subjects. Nor did Wolsey, as represented by Shakspeare, claim an interest with the commons for an act of generosity of which he was not the real author. A letter from Warham to Wolsey (fn. 16) justifies the Cardinal's assertion of his intercession with the King on this occasion. "From the moderation concerning the temporalty, your Grace appears a very good mediator with the King for the commons; and they are more bound to you than they have wit to consider." Warham was not inclined to flatter; and his remark would have been wholly unfounded and glaringly false if that moderation had been due exclusively to the King and "his gentle letter," as Hall asserts; for Warham was a member of the Privy Council, and could not have been ignorant of the facts. He adds, as a warning historians might do well to consider, "The indiscreet multitude is easily moved by every light tale." But this is not the only instance where Wolsey had to bear the odium, and the King carried off the praise.
To put this matter in a clearer light. In the year 1523 Parliament had granted a loan to the King, to be raised by a property and income tax, assessed on a graduated scale. This loan was to be paid in four yearly instalments; and it may have been true, as stated by some of the malcontents, (fn. 17) "that they had over-rated themselves" at this assessment, "to advance their names and their credit." (fn. 18) The Cardinal and the Court party had employed their influence with the House of Commons to enhance the rate, and abridge the periods of payment. But without success. The King's exchequer—and it must be remembered that it was the King's and not the national exchequer—had been heavily burthened by the late war, by his loans to Charles V., and his own personal expenditure. There existed, happily, at that time, none of the modern expedients, real or pretended, for recruiting an exhausted exchequer, war alone excepted. To assemble Parliament and propose a fresh loan was out of the question, whilst the instalments of the former loan remained unpaid. What was to be done? Abandon all hopes of fresh taxation, or abandon all thoughts of continuing the war with France? That, as I have explained, was Wolsey's policy. But the King wished to have his exchequer replenished, and the sums he had advanced for the war repaid. For what purpose did a minister or a Privy Council exist, except to be useful?
The Cardinal's dealings with the Corporation of London.
In this perplexity the Cardinal seems to have fallen back upon the old feudal notion that when the sovereign went to war in person he had a claim upon the extraordinary aid and benevolence of his subjects. In his address to the Mayor and Corporation of London he had cleverly secured their assent to the proposition that it was "convenient that the King should pass the "sea with an army;" if so, then for the honor of the nation, as Wolsey cogently insisted, he must "go like "a prince." When so precious a life was put to the venture, what ought they to give who remained quietly at home, and enjoyed the glory and the profit without the hazard of the enterprise? Surely not less than half their substance; though the King was too considerate and kind to demand so much. So it was called an "amicable grant;" a free gift—the test of their love and loyalty.
In token of this affection for his subjects, Wolsey proceeded to urge, instead of assessing the contribution at the rate of the parliamentary loan, and demanding 4s., the King would ask no more than 3s. 4d. in the pound on incomes of 50l., diminishing the rate to 1s. in the pound on 20s. and upwards, to be taken at their own valuation; or rather at the rate of their previous assessment for the parliamentary grant. Thus Wolsey made it appear throughout that it was not the citizens but the King who was granting the favor. The better to induce the commons to comply, commissioners of rank and influence in their several counties were appointed to stir up the people's liberality. How they fared has been already described, and needs not to be repeated.
But finding how strong was the opposition to the grant in most of the counties, especially when its "amicable" character was lost by insisting on a fixed and rateable benevolence, the Cardinal, and no doubt the Council, induced the King to remit so much of the demand as required that all men should contribute in proportion to the parliamentary assessment. "I kneeled down to his Grace," he tells the Londoners, "and though by your own grants he might have demanded the money as a debt,"—referring to their previous admission,—"he is content to release and pardon the same, and will nothing take of you but of your benevolence." (fn. 19) It was not meant by this, as is often inferred, that the King withdrew his demand, and abandoned entirely all claim to the liberality of his subjects, still less that he had been kept in ignorance of Wolsey's proceedings. He only withdrew so much of it as insisted on a rateable contribution. A benevolence he still expected; and a benevolence Wolsey still endeavored to obtain.
Meets them a second time.
It was in this stage of the proceedings that the Cardinal assembled the Mayor and the Corporation a second time, on the 8th May. But on pressing the benevolence he was met by an observation from one of the citizens, probably from Hall himself, that by the statute of Richard III. no such benevolence could be legally demanded. "Sir," retorted the Cardinal, "I marvel that you speak of Richard III., which was a usurper and a murtherer of his own nephews. Then of so evil a man, how can the acts be good? Make no such allegations; his acts be not honorable." His opponent was not so easily daunted. "An't please your Grace," he replied, "although he did evil, yet in his time were many good acts, made not by him only, but by the consent of the body of the whole realm, which is the Parliament." Finding that this alternative was no better received than the former, the Cardinal consented to withdraw it, leaving it to every man to come before him, and "grant privily what he "would." As no man could be compelled to appear, and there was no punishment on his refusal, the whole project fell to the ground.
As the Londoners had escaped so easily, it was not to be expected that the poorer towns and shires of England would fail to take encouragement from their example. Further pressure became clearly impossible. In Lavenham, Sudbury, and other towns, insurrection was imminent, and menaces against the Cardinal's life were not uncommon. The malcontents increased so rapidly that they overawed the more compliant. The less refractory were afraid of being hewn in pieces if they showed the least disposition to comply with the demands of the commissioners. (fn. 20) Their numbers increased daily. Not only the shires of Suffolk and Essex, but the town and university of Cambridge, had combined, to the number of 20,000, to offer resistance; (fn. 21) whilst other counties, "looking out for a stir (rising)," were ready to follow the same bad example. In Lincolnshire the news of this resistance spread like wild-fire. An insurrection of the peasantry, similar to that which was then desolating Germany, seemed inevitable, when by the middle of the month of May the whole design was abandoned, and nothing remained except to punish the ringleaders of these unlawful assemblies.
Yet the people generally had not ventured even on this amount of resistance without great reluctance; and it is hard to say how much of their discontent was due to the bad management of the commissioners themselves. Some were evidently reluctant agents; others again were severe and haughty. In Kent Sir Thomas Bullen was roughly handled. (fn. 22) In Suffolk, where the Duke had contrived to win over the rich clothiers, the working population, consisting of spinners, weavers, and other artizans, rose in a body, rung the alarm bell, and menaced the commissioners with death. In the neighbouring county, where the Duke of Norfolk had at first been successful, the commons assembled in a menacing attitude. On his sending to learn their intentions, "they only returned for answer they would live and die in the King's cause." When the Duke made his appearance there was a general hubbub of confused voices. "Then he asked who was their captain, and bade that he should speak. Then a well-aged man, of fifty years and above, asked licence of the Duke to speak, which was granted with good will. 'My Lord,' said this man, whose name was John Grene, Sith you ask who is our captain, forsooth, his name is Poverty; for he and his cousin Necessity hath brought us to this doing; for all these persons, and many more, which I would were not here, live not of ourselves; but all we live by the substantial occupiers of this county, and yet they give us so little wages for our workmanship that scarcely we be able to live; and thus in penury we pass the time, we, our wives and children; and if they, by whom we live, be brought in that case that they of their little cannot help us to earn our living, then must we perish and die miserably. I speak this, my Lord: the clothmakers have put all these people, and a far greater number, from work. The husbandmen have put away their servants, and given up household; they say the King asketh so much that they be not able to do as they have done before this time, and then of necessity must we die wretchedly.' The Duke was sorry to hear their complaint, and well he knew that it was true. Then he said, `Neighbours,'—(the Duke, be it remembered, was premier duke of England, and the victor at Flodden,)—'sever yourselves asunder. Let every man depart to his home, and choose four that shall answer for the remnant; and on my honor—(he spoke as a peer)—I will send to the King and make humble intercession for your pardon; which I trust to obtain, so that you will depart.' Then all answered they would, and so they departed home." (fn. 23) The story, which there is no reason to discredit, is curious, as showing the poetical and melancholy temperament of the East Anglian, as com- pared with the sturdier and more prosaic element of the Southern Saxon.
The King meets his Council.
"After this," says Hall, "the two Dukes came to London, and brought with them the chief captains of the rebellion, which were put in the Fleet; and then the King came to Westminster to the Cardinal's place; where upon this matter he assembled a great council, and openly he said that his mind was never to ask anything of his commons which might sound to his dishonor, or to the breach of his laws; wherefore he would know of whom it was long that the commissioners were so straight to demand the sixth part of every man's substance. The Cardinal excused himself, and said that when it was moved in Council how to make the King rich, the King's Council, and especially the Judges, said he might demand any sum by commission; and that by the assent of the whole Council it was done; and took God to witness that he never maligned nor desired the hindrance of the commons, but, like a true councillor, desired to enrich the King; and the spiritual men said that it standeth with God's law, for Joseph caused the king of Egypt to take the fifth part of every man's goods; but because every man layeth the burthen from him, I am content to take it on me, and to endure the fame and noise of the people, for my good will toward the King, and comfort of you my Lords and other the King's councillors; but the elernal God knoweth all." (fn. 24)
Though these remarkable words seem to have dropped almost inadvertently from the Chronicler's pen, and have attracted no attention, they exhibit an important trait in Wolsey's character, which should not be overlooked. That the Cardinal meant it to be inferred that this proposal for an "amicable grant" had not originated with himself is clear. And of this there can be little doubt; for, certainly, it formed no part of his policy. He had no wish for a war with France; for, to counteract the Emperor's designs, he was at that moment secretly and cautiously feeling his way to an alliance with that kingdom. But on this, as on other occasions, he was willing to assume the responsibility of measures inaugurated by others, whether by the King himself or his Council, disregarding the popular odium which they were more fearful of incurring. He had that sense of ministerial obligation, now happily grown into an axiom, that no member of a cabinet has a right to save his own reputation at the expence of his colleagues. His acts are their acts, their acts are his.
The Commissions withdrawn.
The King withdrew the commission, and sent letters of pardon into every shire where the commissioners had encountered opposition. But he never forgot this rebuff,—the first he had experienced since the commencement of his reign,—especially from the spiritual men, who had distinguished themselves by their hostility to the loan, and had set an example of independence to the laity. It rankled in his mind long after, and betrayed itself on more than one occasion. "Now, here is an end," to use Hall's words, (fn. 25) "of this commission, but not an end of inward grudge and hatred that the commons bore to the Cardinal, and to all gentlemen which vehemently set forth that commission and demand."
Wolsey secretly negociates with France.
The Cardinal was now at liberty to pursue his own policy without interruption. Probably he regarded the ill success of the "amicable grant" rather as an advantage than otherwise; for it stopped the mouths of those members of the Council who were anxious for war, and it crushed all their hopes of annexing France. If any portion of the King's rights, or, as they were then called, of his ancient hereditary dominions in that kingdom, were to be recovered, that might be possible to policy, which was not possible to force. More might be wrung from the friendship and necessities than from the enmity of Francis. For that friendship he might be willing to part with one or more of his provinces in order to keep the rest, and avoid the necessity of ceding Burgundy, on which the Emperor had set his heart. Charles was now busily and furtively employed in advancing his own projects. He had no intention of continuing the war, even if he had possessed the means. His offer of a joint invasion was nothing more than a feint intended to terrify the French, and compel Louise, now invested with the regency, to listen more readily to his proposals. Lady Margaret, the Emperor's aunt, understood his policy perfectly. She sent commissioners into England, instructed to keep the King and the Cardinal amused, partly to gain time, partly to prevent any negotiations with France, or interference on the part of England with the bargain the Emperor was hoping to make in his own behalf. Exhorting Henry to arm,—maintaining as much as possible the King's friendship,—entering with apparent zeal into all his plans,—they were strictly commanded to conclude nothing. (fn. 26) How well they fulfilled their instructions,—how closely they were pressed by the Cardinal, who immediately divined their in- tentions, may be seen in their correspondence published in the Spanish Calendar of Don Pascual Gayangos. (fn. 27)
As the Emperor's hopes of accommodation with his prisoner rose or fell, he temporised accordingly. He had committed the direction of these negociations with England to his aunt in the Netherlands, reserving to himself the right of accepting or rejecting any arrangements she might make, as best comported with his interests. Evidently he had promised himself an easy victory. Francis a prisoner in his hands,—England lulled in secure repose by the charm of his diplomacy,—none but a feeble woman left to manage negociations and a troubled kingdom,—what was there to limit or hinder his ambition?
No one could question the intense affection of Louise for her son, or her willingness to make any sacrifice to procure his liberation. France was plunged into great disorder. The nobles were disunited. The people, worn out with heavy imposts, and exposed to the misery of a bad harvest, were wholly disheartened. (fn. 28) Yet, more resolute than her son, more inflexible than her people, nothing could induce Louise to comply with the Emperor's exorbitant demands. "I cannot see how any peace can be negotiated here" (at Lyons), writes Beaurain, who pre- sented her the Emperor's letters, "for they are braver than ever." "As yet," he adds, "the French show no intention of offering anything except their King's ransom, which is not our chief object." He urges, therefore, that though lady Margaret had received instructions from the Emperor to come to no decision, she should now cultivate more eagerly the friendship of England, and urge them to invade. The sooner the better. (fn. 29) The Emperor was disappointed when he least expected it. His language changed with the situation; and Fitzwilliam, in his intercourse with Margaret, found that she spake "more firmly" (resolutely) than she had done for a long time in favour of a joint invasion. "He was unable to guess the reason, still less to reconcile her uncertain and contradictory assertions." (fn. 30)
Conceals his intentions under professions of regard for the Emperor.
Meanwhile, Wolsey had not scrupled to tell the Imperial Commissioners to their faces that he had guessed their intentions. The undisguised frankness of his remarks served better to deceive them than the most subtle artifice. He knew well, he said, that the object of their negotiations was merely to gain time, and obtain more favorable terms from their royal prisoner. (fn. 31) With the most off-handed candor he made no search of telling them, "I know full well that we shall never get any assistance from you; but we shall do our best, either by an alliance with the Turk—(the Emperor's worst enemy),—or by making peace with the French, and giving the princess Mary to the Dauphin, or by otherwise declaring against the Emperor." (fn. 32) He added, half in banter, half in earnest, that if his master once joinedt he league in Italy, it would be an easy matter to eject the Imperialists out of the Peninsula. To men accustomed to hear the Emperor and his power spoken of with bated breath, such audacity appeared incredible. To their unfeigned chagrin and astonishment, he was in possession of all their secrets. Through some unknown channel—probably from Joachim himself, (fn. 33) who had been dismissed from England on the 21st of March—he had learned more exactly than the commissioners themselves the state of the negotiations between Charles and his prisoner. When he asked them what the Emperor was doing, and they answered, "Nothing," "I know better," replied he boldly, and then to their discomfiture repeated to them in detail the chief points of Beaurain's instructions for negotiating a marriage with Francis, and another for the Emperor. (fn. 34) Prepared at all points, it was impossible to take him at disadvantage. Whilst the Cardinal was deluding them with the belief that he was eagerly bent on war, and flattered them in their persuasion that they had succeeded in diverting his attention from their real designs, he was himself turning upon them their own devices. Already he had opened negotiations with the French king's mother. Early in June the irrepressible John Joachim once more made his appearance in London. (fn. 35)
Such an apparition was far from welcome to the Emperor's commissioners. It boded no good to the Emperor's interests. "The day before yesterday" (22d June), writes La Sauch to the Emperor, "was the anniversary of Jean Jockin's arrival in London. That only shows how time passes, expecially in journeys; and one may guess who is the cause of all this" (Wolsey). This wily, cautious, noiseless intriguer had always been the bête noire of the Imperialists. More than once he had spoiled their game at the moment they imagined themselves sure of success. Again and again had Charles protested against his presence in England, and charged his ambassadors to insist on his dismissal. He was only dismissed to reappear again at the first opportunity that offered of urging the French king's interest. His confidential communications with Louise augured ill for the Emperor's projects. What was worse, Charles could make no proposals to Francis, nor sacrifice the interests of his English ally, without an uneasy suspicion that his secrets were betrayed. He and Madame Margaret, his aunt, had used their utmost skill to keep Henry in the dark as to the Emperor's intentions in regard to his prisoner; and now there was not only the danger that all those intentions would be made known to England, but they would be set in a light as little favorable as possible to the Emperor's credit.
On the day when Joachim's arrival became known, La Sauch, the chief of the Imperial commissioners, accosted Brian Tuke, the Cardinal's confidential secretary, first, however, waiting to see if Tuke would introduce the subject. "Well, what news of the sieur Jean Joakin? What has he to say for himself?" La Sauch inquired with affected indifference. "True, I forgot," answered "Tuke, to inform you of his arrival; but I will tell you all I know. Joakin called on the Legate, and delivered his message from the Queen Regent of France. When he had finished, the Legate asked him, 'Have you anything more to say?' 'No,' replied Joakin. 'Well, then,' said the Legate, 'you may return tomorrow the same way as you came. I have no more to say to you. Go.' 'But,' added Tuke, as if warning his interrogator not to trust too implicitly to this assurance, 'people who come on such missions don't generally disclose at their first audience the whole of their charge, and so I cannot say whether he will leave the next day, or whether he will not.'" (fn. 36) Diplomatists of the 16th century understood perfectly well the worth of such oracular responses. I firmly believe," says the disconsolate ambassador, writing shortly after to his master, Charles V., "that the King and the Cardinal will make peace with the common enemy (the French), without securing for themselves a large or a little slice (pieche "ni piechette), rather than prosecute a war requiring so great an expenditure, and for which they are not prepared. Money they have none; and as to getting it from the people, the expedient has been tried, and has not succeeded." (fn. 37) His mortification was pardonable; but when he attributed the backwardness of England to the want of money, he seems to have forgotten that less than a fortnight before he and his fellow commissioners had preferred the modest request that Henry should lend their master 600,000 ducats,—200,000 at once, and 400,000 more in four months. (fn. 38) He was right in his supposition that England would make peace with "the common enemy,"—whether to so little advantage as he anticipated, remains to be seen.
Treaty with France.
The commission to Joachim and the Chancellor of Alençon (Brinon) to treat for peace with Henry VIII. is dated the 9th of June. (fn. 39) But it is clear that negotiations must already have taken place as to the terms upon which the treaty should proceed. (fn. 40) The King—and clearly the King quite as much as Wolsey now desired this alliance, out of some displeasure he had conceived for the Emperor (fn. 41) —had at first demanded Boulogne as the price of his friendship. The demand was met with an absolute refusal, and he consented to waive that claim in consideration of a large sum of money. (fn. 42) Though we have no details of the negociations, they must have advanced with a rapidity as great as their secresy; for Sanga, the Pope's confidant, had, before the end of June, informed the bishop of Bayeux that the agreement with France was already on the point of conclusion, although, in order the better to dissemble the matter, Wolsey pretended that the negociations had been interrupted. (fn. 43) Unconscious of what was going on, the Imperial commissioners remained still in England, flattering themselves, and flattering Wolsey, "that everything would come right in time," (fn. 44) —listening to his pathetic remonstrances that he should ever be accused of speaking ill of the Emperor,—believing, or professing to believe, that the Cardinal was deeply affected by his inability to regain his good-will and affection. (fn. 45) On the 7th of July Wolsey went so far as to write to the Emperor, expressing his deep affliction and regret that the malicious reports of his enemies had supplanted him in the Emperor's favor; concluding with an assurance that he loved the Emperor, and was more ready to serve him than any other prince in Christendom, the King, his master, only excepted. (fn. 46)
Communicated to the Emperor.
It was not until the 3rd of July that Henry communicated the news to his ambassadors in the Imperial court. (fn. 47) Joachim, he said, had brought propositions of peace from France; and as the Emperor had confessed his inability to continue the war, the King was inclined to accept them. In furtherance of an object so desirable, he was willing to mitigate his demands, and content himself with such lands and sums of money as could be obtained from the French king by the Emperor's mediation. Charles listened to these communications with apparent calmness, contenting himself with observing that Joachim's intentions were delusive, and suggesting that it would be better to send them for further consideration to the Imperial court. As he had fully resolved to abandon his marriage contract with Mary, and believed that so long as he held Francis in captivity all arrangements would be at his own disposal, he had no wish to complicate matters. Even if he had, such was the state of his finances, and the unsettled condition of Italy, that he could only bow to necessity. A million of gold crowns with his future empress, Isabella of Portugal, would more effectually extricate him from his difficulties than ineffectual struggles with England, and equally ineffectual remonstrances. But the possession of the French king's person was more a specious than a real advantage. It armed against him all the powers of Italy. It awakened the suspicions of England. It revived in their full vigor the mutual rivalries of his generals, which had been suspended for a time before the walls of Pavia. He had promised his sister Eleanor, ex-queen of Portugal, to Bourbon,—well aware, even if she had been willing to consent, that his subjects would never have tolerated her union with an exile and a Frenchman, or have seen him advanced over the heads of the native Spanish nobility. Ostensibly he had demanded that Bourbon should be restored to his estates and his honors. He had even gone so far as to talk of erecting Provence and Languedoc into an independent principality for Bourbon. But in proportion as he pressed the claims of others, he invalidated his own; and so resolute had Francis and his mother shown themselves from the first in resisting any attempt at the dismemberment of France, that his only hope of wringing the cession of Burgundy from the necessities of his prisoner, was to abandon the claims of others, and confine himself exclusively to his own. Henceforth this became the sole object of his thoughts. But this new conjunction of France and England, which, in common with his ministers, he attributed to the machinations of Wolsey, was a sore obstacle to his designs. The alliance between the two Crowns, already completed before it was communicated to the Emperor—formally signed, sealed, and delivered on 30 August, (fn. 48) —was blazoned immediately over Europe. Every state that had been wavering or hostile before, was confirmed in its hostility to Charles. The French king and his mother, never inclined to yield to the exorbitant demands of the Emperor, were now more than ever confirmed in their intentions to resist. A circumstance, however, occurred at this time to shake their resolution.
Obstacles to its completion.
Two obstacles stood in the way of the new alliance. One was the impossibility of obtaining any ratification from Francis, who had now been carried to Spain, and to whom all access was denied; the other was the difficulty of procuring a sufficient guarantee for the fulfilment of any conditions that might be agreed upon. It was even doubtful how far Louise could legally negociate whilst her son was in captivity; or how far any peace could be binding whilst Francis was in the Emperor's power. (fn. 49) It had been proposed that certain towns should become security for due fulfilment of the terms. (fn. 50) The proposal was unpopular. Paris had not yet spoken, but in the other Parliaments throughout the kingdom violent altercations arose. "The said Parliaments," says an unknown correspondent, (fn. 51) "expected the Three Estates of the realm to have been assembled; which the Regent has hindered as much as she could; for if they had met she would have been deposed; for all wise men think that as a woman cannot inherit the Crown, neither ought she to rule ... She has imposed 1,200,000 livres of additional taxes." He adds, as a curious illustration of the state of the times, "Eight or ten days ago, three men, clothed in black robes, and with green chaperons over their shoulders, and horns slung from their necks, like postmen, passed through the streets of Paris by different routes, and met in the court of the Palace. Sounding their horns they cried aloud three times, 'The King of Fools is dead. His dolt (sotte) of a mother is mourning for him. Wise men (les saiges) don't dare mention it; fools only make it known.' Then, scattering papers among the crowd containing these words, they disappeared by different routes."
The captivity of Francis.
The imprisonment of Francis, to any nation of less elasticity and less recuperative energy than the French, would have occasioned inextricable confusion and perplexity. The prevalence of communistic notions, intimately connected with the progress of the Reformation, was beginning to be everywhere felt and feared. (fn. 52) In various parts of Germany the maintainers of these tenets had been able to hold their own against all opposition. In Flanders they were kept in check by the vigorous measures of the lady Margaret. How soon they might have appeared in England, had the King persisted in the "amicable grant," and turned the commons against the gentry, it is impossible to decide. But it would be wrong to suppose that they were unknown here, or regarded with little interest. In France, the absence of the King was a signal for all the elements of discontent to rise to the surface, or at least for the communes to strike a blow for independence. If these attempts did not succeed, it was owing to the loyalty of the French nobility, who rallied loyally round Louise, notwithstanding their hatred of the Chancellor Du Prat, and sacrificed their resentment and their ambition to their patriotism. The impossibility of holding any communication with the captive monarch, the uncertainty as to his health and the Emperor's intentions, would have paralyzed less vigorous counsels. On his capture at Pavia Francis was taken under a strong escort to the fort of Pizzighettone. To ordinary observers he had not abated a jot of his good spirits, joking with his guard, and rallying those about him. (fn. 53) But a writer, evidently friendly to the unfortunate monarch, gives a different and more veracious account of his real feelings. He contrived to gain admittance to the King, and even accompany him to the chapel of the fortress, notwithstanding the jealousy of his captors. The King wore an ash-colored dress, trimmed with marten skins of little value—(it was the month of March)—which he had not changed since he was taken prisoner. He stood up at the Gospel, pensively rubbing his head with his right hand. After mass the writer managed to speak with him privately, when the captive monarch inquired eagerly after Albany and others. "I told the King," he continues, "that all was lost; at which he was much moved, saying nothing else was to be expected. I added the words, 'I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.' Nothing more was said. After breakfast I asked him if he had any message for the Pope? He answered, 'Non altro; raccomandatemi a N.S. La fortuna,'—and, turning away abruptly to the wall," took no further notice of what was passing. (fn. 54)
Is carried to Spain.
On the 17th May the Viceroy carried off his prisoner to Genoa. (fn. 55) It was at first intended to take him to Naples, but on the 8th of June the Viceroy changed his plan, and resolved to proceed at once into Spain; much to the dissatisfaction of Bourbon. (fn. 56) Between Bourbon and the Viceroy there never had been any real cordiality. There never could be. Besides the differences of nationality, the Spaniard regarded with jealousy the favors which, as he supposed, the Emperor lavished on the French exile;—favors to be augmented still more by a marriage with the Emperor's sister. It was probably this feeling that had induced the Viceroy, before the battle of Pavia, to recommend to Charles the advantages of peace,—possibly also to exaggerate the difficulties of maintaining the campaign. The great victory at Pavia,—the merit of which was mainly attributed to Bourbon,—had not contributed to diminish Lannoy's jealousy of a foreign rival, whom he was resolved, if possible, to disappoint or supplant. All these causes concurred in making the Viceroy more favorable to Francis, and more lenient in the treatment of his prisoner. It is probable, also, that the Viceroy was the first to put the notion into the King's head of becoming a suitor for the hand of the Emperor's sister; so facilitating the terms of his own release, and punishing the man who had been the chief author of his misfortunes. Bourbon's offences, come what may, Francis had resolved never to pardon. Even before his arrival in Spain, it is certain that Lannoy had forwarded a love-letter from his prisoner to the widowed queen of Portugal,—an extraordinary act of audacity, which Charles thought needful to rebuke, but never to punish. There is no ground for the popular notion that Francis was treated with unnecessary severity. Even the Emperor must have been aware that he had to hope from the accommodating temper of his prisoner more liberal terms in proportion to the mildness of his captivity.
Starting from Villa Franca (fn. 57) on the 11th June, the fleet with the royal prisoner on board reached Palamos, in Catalonia, about the 17th of the same month. (fn. 58) By the 22nd the convoy had already arrived at Barcelona, (fn. 59) which appears to have been reached two or three days before. Here the King suffered from a slight attack of fever. At Barcelona—for the main fleet was now dismissed—he embarked on a galley for Tarragona. At Tarragona 500 of the Spaniards broke out into a mutiny against the Viceroy; and Francis, looking out of the window of the castle where he was confined, to discover the reason of the noise, narrowly escaped from the shot of a harquebus, which passed within a hand's breadth over his head. (fn. 60) Here or in the immediate neighbourhood he remained until the 26th, and then sailed to Valencia. He was still at Valencia on the 28th. Wherever he touched he was received with a kind of ovation, as if he had been a conqueror rather than a prisoner. The municipality turned out to do him honor,—the populace flocked about him, not only touched by his misfortunes and the celebrity of his name, but persuaded of his prerogative to cure "the king's evil." "In Barcelona, in Valencia, and other places of Spain where the King has arrived," write the French ambassadors, (fn. 61) "so vast is the number of the sick and the scrofulous who have been pre- sented to the King for the touch, with great expectation of being cured, that never even in France were such crowds seen." Every one was exuberant in his praises. The graciousness of his manners raised up friends for him wherever he passed; and prayers were offered for his delivery. With all his vices he was the most popular monarch in Christendom, and possessed an inexplicable fascination of manner which even his enemies could not resist. In the very heart of Spain—in Madrid itself—the effect was the same. "The king of France," says the Venetian, Navagero, (fn. 62) "is at Madrid, and is expected to remain there until affairs are concluded. He makes himself so popular, and is so courteous, gracious, and generous, that words cannot exceed it. The Spaniards, who are not accustomed to such treatment, love and adore him,—more, perhaps, than some people—(meaning the Emperor)—would wish. Nothing else is talked of. Were he brought to Spain again, he would come in a different fashion, for he has so moved the hearts of all men, that what is said about him by the Spaniards is only too extravagant."
Arrival at Madrid.
So great was the throng at Valencia that he was obliged to retire to some distance in the neighbourhood. (fn. 63) "The French king," writes Tunstal on the 8th July, (fn. 64) "is now in the castle of Cabanillios, (fn. 65) in Valencia, there to tarry three or four days, unto he had taken a purgation, because he was grieved by travel by sea." Here he was visited by De Selva, the president of Paris, on Wednesday, 15 July, (fn. 66) and left that neighbourhood on the 20th. (fn. 67) On the 5th August he was at Santorias; and Monday after, the 7th, at Jean de Lotera, on the road from Valencia to Madrid. He was expected in the latter place on the 12th, (fn. 68) having arrived already at Guadalaxara, "a place belonging to the duke del Infantado, one of the principal grandees of Spain." The Duke invited him to a sumptuous banquet, and had games performed in his honor. (fn. 69) On the 14th he had reached Madrid, accompanied on his road by the Infantado and others of the Spanish nobility. (fn. 70)
Desires safe conduct for his sister Margaret.
Already in the first week of July, Francis had despatched Montmorenci to the Emperor to express the desire he had of kissing his Imperial hands, and the entire confidence reposed by the King in the Emperor's goodness and magnanimity. He requested at the same time a safe-conduct for his sister, Madame d'Alençon, to conduct the negociations in person. (fn. 71) Though the last request was granted without any difficulty, Marguerite's safe-conduct was not signed until the 25th of August. (fn. 72) Such a favorable opportunity of making credit out of a very small capital was not to be lost; and as no danger was to be apprehended, the tenor of these overtures was immediately communicated by Charles to the English ambassadors. They were informed at their interview with the Emperor that Francis had proposed, among other things, for the hand of Eleanor—(nothing of the kind appears in Montmorenci's instructions),—but his proposal had been unceremoniously rejected, as she had been promised already to Bourbon. "We told him," says Tunstal, "that such a match was worth not only one captivity, but twice to be taken prisoner, as Francis would gain more by it than if he had been at liberty." Of the safeconduct for the duchess of Alençon they heard with ill-concealed alarm. She was a widow who had just lost her husband,—a French widow, besides, of great personal attractions and more than ordinary abilities. Like her mother, Louise, she was devotedly attached to her brother, for whose liberation she was prepared to make any sacrifice. For a lady negociator to be mixed up in grave political transactions, appeared to our serious countrymen a perilous and portentous proceeding,—they knew nothing of the progress of negotiations in England. It could be no less than a dire plot "to wowe (woo) the Emperor for herself, and the Queen Dowager for her brother." (fn. 73) When, therefore, the plain question was put to them, "Shall the Emperor grant or deny the request?" the point appeared too knotty for immediate resolution. They demanded time for deliberation. Next morning they gave in their answer—that the Duchess would only hinder the Emperor's profit, and comfort her brother in his obstinacy. "Besides being young and a widow, she comes, as Ovid says of women going to see a play, to see and to be seen, that perhaps the Emperor may like her; and also to woo the queen-dowager of Portugal for her brother, which no one else dares do without the Emperor's knowledge. Then, as they are both young widows, she shall find good commodity in cackling with her to advance her brother's matter; and if she finds her inclined thereto, they will help each other." (fn. 74)
As the Emperor had already made up his mind, he turned a deaf ear to their remonstrances, regardless of the warnings of Ovid. Though delays are proverbially dangerous, he had hopes that by procrastination, or at least by prolonging the captivity of Francis, he should eventually gain his end. Procrastination was his habit; and he had found it useful on more than one occasion. He had fixed his heart on the absolute surrender of Burgundy, and to this Francis would never yield an unconditional consent. Charles knew the effect of stringent durance in a gloomy tower upon a spirit however lively; or he thought he knew it. He was aware of the grief of Louise, and her profound affection for her son; and he was too well acquainted with what was passing in France not to be conscious that the King's presence would shortly be required to stay the disaffection and disorders gaining a formidable head by his absence. On the 21st of August Navagero writes, (fn. 75) "The Emperor is determined not to have peace without the cession of Burgundy." As this was not to be had, still less after the peace of England with France, there was nothing to be done, except to wait for the coming of the Duchess. (fn. 76)
Margaret had started already from Aigues Mortes for Valencia, but before she could reach Madrid Francis had nearly slipped away from the hands of those who hated and of those who loved him, and left them to play out the play by themselves. In his written communications with Francis the Emperor had shown himself friendly and courteous. On more than one occasion he had expressed the satisfaction he felt at the King's approaching visit to Madrid, hoping, as he said, that such a step would lead to a perfect understanding between them, and end in a speedy release. He had even written to his brother, the Archduke, to say that he and the King were on most friendly terms. (fn. 77) But the moment that Francis set foot in Madrid, he dropped all communications, and resolutely refused to see him. "The King," writes Navagero on the 30th August, "bears his imprisonment quietly, but is much disappointed. He expected, immediately on arriving in Spain, to have had an interview with the Emperor, and arrange his affairs easily. Therefore he requested to be brought here; but, so far as can be seen hitherto, the Emperor does not choose to visit him until the affairs are concluded." (fn. 78) A month had passed away, and Charles showed no signs of relenting. Hitherto Francis had enjoyed excellent health. Now disappointment, and the stricter confinement to which he was subjected at Madrid, preyed on his spirits. On the 11th September he was struck down by a fever attended with ague. The disease rapidly gained ground, and his life was despaired of. "During the last few days," writes the Venetian envoy, Navagero, to the Signory, (fn. 79) "the king of France became much worse, so that the Viceroy and physicians in attendance sent an express to the Emperor, stating that they did not expect him to live more than a few hours, and if he wished to see the King alive he must come immediately. The Emperor had already quitted Segovia, and received the intelligence some six leagues from Madrid, to which place he hastened immediately. On his arrival he found the King dozing, and, not choosing to have him roused, waited until he woke. He then entered the chamber, and was announced to the King. As the Emperor approached the bed, Francis endeavoured to raise himself up as well as he could; and, embracing his Imperial visitor, said in French, 'Emperor, my lord, here am I, thy servant and thy salve.' The Emperor replied, 'Not so; you are my good friend and my brother, and I hope you will continue to be so.' He then begged Francis to be cheerful, and to think of nothing but his recovery, adding that on the arrival of the duchess of Alençon peace would be made; for he required nothing more than what was equitable, and he supposed that the King on his part would not fail to do what was right, and would therefore soon regain his liberty. To this Francis replied, 'It was for the Emperor to command, as he had nothing to do but obey.' With these words the Emperor took his leave.
"That night the King seemed to improve greatly. On the morrow (19th Sept.) the Emperor visited him again, using fair and loving words, and telling Francis he was returning to Toledo. The King made answer that he had already confessed and communicated, and did not know what would become of him; though he rather expected to die; at any rate he recommended himself to his Majesty, saying that if he lived he would be the Emperor's good servant, and if he died he hoped the Emperor would not take more from his children than was right, but protect them from harm. Comforting the King as well as he could, the Emperor quitted the apartment, and as he was walking about the castle, the duchess of Alençon arrived. Advancing to meet her, he found her in tears, ascending the stairs. He embraced and kissed her, and after a few words conducted her to the King's chamber. He then mounted his horse, and went to a place two leagues from Madrid, and on the morrow he returned to Toledo."
On the 24th Navagero wrote again, "The King of France is much worse, and news of his death is hourly expected. The whole court is in consternation, as this event would disconcert all projects. The Emperor, whose soul is not to be depressed or elevated by bad or good fortune, exclaims, 'Dominus dedit, Dominus abstulit,' and he says he is more sorry for the King than for anything else. On the 22nd news came that the patient was a little better. Yesterday morning (23rd) several posts brought word that he was at the point of death; subsequently, in the evening, a messenger arrived, saying the physicians had still hopes, as they had discovered an abscess in the King's head; and though the disorder was very dangerous, it was less discouraging than seeing him lie in the last extremity. This morning the news is confirmed; but fresh couriers arrive hourly, some reporting one thing, some another." (fn. 80)
During this terrible interval no one ventured to communicate to Louise the news of her son's malady. When she heard of it at last from her daughter, though the worst symptoms were past, she gave way to a passion of grief, and, shutting herself up in her apartments, turned a deaf ear to all consolation. Refusing food and repose, she spent six long days of anxious suspense in the alternations of hope and despair, for during all that time no intelligence reached her from Madrid. (fn. 81) When at last the news of her son's convalescence was confirmed she wrote to Marguerite, "Daughter, this is only to assure you of my resurrection; for of my death and passion I leave this messenger to tell you." She adds, in a postscript, "I write not to the King at this time, that I may not fatigue him, but I wish you had the ability to make my recommendations to him as strongly as in my heart I feel them." (fn. 82) By the 1st of October the King was so much better that Marguerite was enabled to start the next day for Toledo; like a saint of old to rescue "from lymbo and from darkness" (fn. 83) her brother and her sovereign. (fn. 84)
Marguerite's negociations with Charles for her brother's release.
Returns without success.
She was received by Charles with more than usual graciousness. He was delighted to see her. Expressing his satisfaction at her brother's recovery, and the hopes he entertained of his friendship, he conducted her to her lodgings. After dinner, by the advice of the Viceroy, she paid the Emperor a visit. He desired that their conference should be strictly private; that no one should be admitted into the chamber, and one lady only should keep the door. "I will let you know the result this evening," she says in a letter to her brother, from which these details are borrowed, "but I beg, Monseigneur, that in the presence of Larcon (Alarcon his guard) you will put on a sad and enfeebled look, for your debility will help my despatch." (fn. 85) Conferences of this nature, which would certainly have confirmed Tunstal in his suspicions of her intentions had he but known of them, took place from day to day, sometimes in her own lodgings, sometimes in the lodgings of the Emperor. Two months passed away in fruitless negociations. Modify the terms as she would, the Emperor would not recede an inch from his original demand. He would be content with nothing less than the cession of Burgundy; and to this Francis would not consent, except on certain conditions. Despairing of success, Marguerite determined to leave. "She has asked for her passport," writes Perenot de Granville to Margaret of Savoy, (fn. 86) "and intends to return. If she persists, all hope of peace vanishes." (fn. 87) She left Toledo a few days after, and reached Barcelona on the 16th of December. (fn. 88) It appears by her own account, written to the Chancellor of Alençon, that she was detained at Rousillon by a fall from her horse, and received a hurt above the knee. She complains bitterly of the Spainards as the greatest dissemblers in the world, taxing them with making fair promises they never intended to observe. The statement, sometimes denied, that Charles wished to take advantage of the expiration of the safe-conduct and detain her, is fully confirmed by her own letters. Notwithstanding the apparent courtesy of the Emperor she was forbidden to remain in her brother's company with three of her women; and when she was compelled to return she was refused an extension of her passport, that a pretence might be found for detaining her in Spain until the truce with France had expired. These practices compelled her to make such diligence that she was a month on horseback, from six in the morning until night. She had left the King in good spirits, though all except herself had despaired of his life. (fn. 89)