January 1559


Institute of Historical Research



Martin A. S. Hume (editor)

Year published





Comment on this article
Double click anywhere on the text to add an annotation in-line

Citation Show another format:

'Simancas: January 1559', Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 1: 1558-1567 (1892), pp. 21-26. URL: Date accessed: 19 April 2014. Add to my bookshelf


(Min 3 characters)

January 1559

1559 10 Jan. 7. The King to the Count de Feria.
Councillor Wotton presented to me yesterday the Queen's credential letter of 1st instant and in virtue of it gave me two messages from her. The first was her desire not only to preserve the brotherhood, friendship, and perpetual alliance between us, but also, if such was my wish, to confirm them by celebrating anew the treaties and capitulations which were executed by the Emperor and my predecessors with her country. To this I replied fittingly, saying I thanked the Queen for this proof of her goodwill and assured her that my wish always was and would be to observe the treaties we had with England, and indeed to serve and satisfy her in every way as I had written and sent verbally by Cobham.
The second matter was to let me know that the French had made an attempt, although not openly, to commence peace negotiations, and although she thought they would not return to the subject she wished me to be assured, in case they did, that she would not listen to them nor depart from the line she had taken up, namely to carry on the negotiations jointly with us, and to agree to nothing with the French without my knowledge and co-operation.
I replied to this also thanking the Queen for advising me as to what had happened, and saying I was sure she would do as she said, knowing, as she did, the way I had acted in these peace negotiations and the care I had taken of English interests, in respect of which alone I had refrained from concluding peace with the French with whom I was quite agreed on all other points. Only their decision is awaited to conclude peace, and although no doubt, Wotton will advise the Queen of this, I think well to let you know, both for your information and that you may thank her heartily from me and satisfy her on these points as opportunity offers in accordance with my wishes which you know. You may if you please, use for this purpose the letter I enclose, which as you will see, accredits you on these and the other matters on which you have to treat with them. I am sure you will have done what was necessary, as I wrote to you, to get these people to decide about the peace. The matter only awaits their answer, and as the time is now so short and it is most important that their decision should arrive in time, you had better press them again as if of your own accord, in the sense I wrote to you before, and urge them very strongly to make up their mind as to what is to be done and let me know at once what they resolve. —Brussels, 10th January 1559.
10 Jan.
Simancas. B.M. Add. 26056.
8. The Same to the Same.
You will have noted what I said in my two last letters respecting the Queen's marriage, and that I highly approved of the course you had adopted in persuading her and her Council that it was not to her interest to marry a subject. You will continue to do your utmost to prevent this. As regards myself, if they should broach the subject to you, you should treat it in such a way as neither to accept nor reject the business altogether. It is a matter of such grave importance that it was necessary for me to take counsel and maturely consider it in all its bearings before I sent you my decision. Many great difficulties present themselves and it is difficult for me to reconcile my conscience to it as I am obliged to reside in my other dominions and consequently could not be much in England, which apparently is what they fear, and also because the Queen has not been sound on religion, and it would not look well for me to marry her unless she were a Catholic. Besides this such a marriage would appear like entering upon a perpetual war with France, seeing the claims that the queen of Scots has to the English crown. The urgent need for my presence in Spain, which is greater than I can say here, and the heavy expense I should be put to in England by reason of the costly entertainment necessary to the people there, together with the fact that my treasury is so utterly exhausted as to be unable to meet the most necessary ordinary expenditure, much less new and onerous charges : bearing in mind these and many other difficulties no less grave which I need not set forth I nevertheless cannot lose sight of the enormous importance of such a match to Christianity and the preservation of religion which has been restored in England by the help of God. Seeing also the importance that the country should not fall back into its former errors which would cause to our own neighbouring dominions serious dangers and difficulties, I have decided to place on one side all other considerations which might be urged against it and am resolved to render this service to God, and offer to marry the queen of England, and will use every possible effort to carry this through if it can be done on the conditions that will be explained to you.
The first and most important is that you should satisfy yourself that the Queen will profess the same religion as I do, which is the same that I shall ever hold, and that she will persevere in the same and maintain and uphold it in the country, and with this end will do all that may appear necessary to me. She will have to obtain secret absolution from the Pope and the necessary dispensation so that when I marry her she will be a Catholic, which she has not hitherto been. In this way it will be evident and manifest that I am serving the Lord in marrying her and that she has been converted by my act.
You will however not propose any conditions until you see how the Queen is disposed towards the matter itself, and mark well that you must commence to broach the subject with the Queen alone as she has already opened the door to such an approach.
In my marriage treaty with the late Queen it was stipulated that my Netherlands dominions should pass to any issue of the marriage, but as this condition would be very prejudicial to my son (Carlos) it must not be again consented to.
Nothing has been said to the Pope nor is it desirable until the Queen's consent has been obtained.—Brussels, 10 January 1559.
13 Jan. 9. The Same to the Same.
There seems to be considerable delay in the arrival of an answer to my long letter of 28th December, treating in detail the question of peace, and giving you instructions how to proceed with the Queen and Council, and although I know that no time has been lost on your part, and that you will not have failed in diligence, I wrote to you again on the subject in my letter of the 10th instant, and have determined to send the present courier with this letter only, the time fixed being now so very short. If on the arrival of this letter no resolution has been adopted, you will as if of your own accord press them most urgently to decide what is to be done. As upon this matter alone depends the conclusion of peace, if their answer with terms of conciliation acceptable to the French do not arrive in time, it is useless for the Commissioners to meet on the day arranged, as nothing can be done without this foundation for which all is at a standstill. I have already written to you that the object is to get them, as if of their own action and without pressure on my part, to agree to terms which the French can accept, and in order to push them to adopt such terms I still think the best way will be to tell them that if they cannot agree to conditions of peace they must immediately tell you in detail and distinctly to what extent they are prepared to contribute for their share of the war, which must be carried on with the king of France, I for my part being willing to carry out all my treaty obligations with them. You must give them to understand how willing I am to help them, and how I look upon their affairs as my own ; but although great demonstrations must be made to this effect, the object of course must be to persuade them with the skill and tact you possess to find some way of settling the question of Calais and concluding peace of which christendom has so much need. From what I have already written you know my wishes, and I need not enlarge further, except to enjoin you to press the matter forward as much as possible, and let me know as speedily as you can what is done.
Note in the King's handwriting :
You will well understand the importance of a decision in this business as it will not suit me to have any more prorogations, and I must know how I am going to stand in all my affairs and most of all in this. If they do not decide soon in London I am not sure that I shall not have to resolve as suits me, it being needful for my affairs. About the matter contained in my last letter also I must have a decision so that I may act accordingly. You must advise me frequently of everything, as I cannot help being very anxious.— Brussels, January 13, 1559.
13 Jan. 10. The Count de Feria to the King.
Lord Grey has arrived here, as your Majesty has heard, and the Queen has sent two of her Council to say that she will be glad if your Majesty will favour him in the exchange of the baron de la Rochefoucauld for him. I write in obedience to the Queen's desire, and I have no doubt as this is a matter which will please Her Majesty, you will command such steps to be taken as will best tend to obtaining his freedom, and I humbly beg your Majesty to do so. —14th January 1559.
Document endorsed : Copy of letter written to His Majesty in favour of my Lord Grey.—Dureplaz (Durham Place), 13th January 1559.
20 Jan. 11. The King to the Count de Feria.
The ambassador to my very dear nephew the king of Portugal has complained to me of the delay that has occurred in settling the business respecting which I have written to you on several occasions and lastly on the 14th November, as you will have seen, touching the English ships that had arrived at Portsmouth laden with gold and pepper, which they had brought from the coast of the Mina, (fn. 1) to a greater amount than was covered by their sureties for 1,500 crowns. He says that notwithstanding all his efforts he cannot obtain justice, nor have they delivered to him any of the merchandise from the ships, or executed the bond, and he begs me to write to you again and to the Queen on the matter which I do most willingly, as I look upon his affairs as my own. I enjoin you therefore to use your best endeavours to obtain a settlement as soon as possible, and have the share that is declared to belong to the King handed to the person appointed by the ambassador for the purpose. You will speak to the Queen about it in my name in fulfilment of the letter of credence sent herewith, and will assure her how glad I shall be for a speedy and favourable decision to be arrived at in the case. —Brussels, 20th January 1559.
28 Jan. 12. The Same to the Same.
A memorial has been presented to me here by certain merchants, named Cristobal Pruner, Francisco Velati, Paulo Timmerman, Henrico Zomer, Francisco Bridon, Johan de Has, Huberto de Zande, and John Hoens, complaining greatly of the bad treatment they have received from the English, who have recently taken from them certain ships with their valuable cargoes as they have from many others of our subjects. Although the Queen and Council are well aware of the justice of the case no restitution can be obtained, and the merchants petition me very urgently to take some steps in the matter. I cannot well refuse this, and I have ordered a letter to be written to you which will be handed to the parties, containing the petition and a list of the ships and merchandise seized. Do what you can in their favour, but if on receipt of my letter you think the broaching of the matter will be injurious to our principal affair you can postpone it till a more favourable opportunity. You can extract from the memorial what you think best, but you will see on reading it that it will be better not to show the memorial itself. I have also given the Portuguese ambassador letters for you and the Queen about the English ships that went to the Mina.— 28th January 1559.
31 Jan. 13. The Count de Feria to the King.
I wrote to your Majesty by a post despatched on the 20th, giving an account of events to that date. Since then I have only seen the Queen once, in the little chamber leading out of the privy-chamber. She conversed with me very gaily. She has not been very well lately and the opening of Parliament was postponed in consequence from the 23rd to the 25th, on which latter day she went thither between 10 and 11 o'clock, but would not allow the abbot and monks of Westminster to receive her as is usual, but went to the hall of Parliament itself. She returned thither some three or four days after in the afternoon. They have proposed three things, first that the religion should be reformed or changed ; secondly, that all laws recently passed should be revoked ; and thirdly, to ask for money.
The Catholics are very fearful of the measures to be taken in this Parliament. The members of the Council who are foremost in upsetting things are Cecil and the earl of Bedford, and the earl of Sussex is the worst of those outside. I understand that the Councillors are beginning to be convinced that she does not wish to marry in the country, and this is causing them to hurry on the heresy business. But after all everything depends on the husband she chooses, for the King's wish is paramount here in all things.
On this occasion I did not revert to the pending discussion, nor have I done so since as I thought best to wait for the Parliament to press the Queen to marry, as I hear from her that they will, and she wishes to await it, although I do not believe she will declare her choice whilst Parliament is sitting, because if the person chosen is not to their liking they could use the national voice to stop the affair. But another reason is that she was suffering from a bad cold when I saw her, and has been almost ever since. I await your Majesty's letter to press her further on the very first opportunity, as I am exceedingly anxious to see the end of this business, and it is most important that your Majesty should know the result as soon as possible. By last post I wrote your Majesty that I had been told that the Queen took the holy sacrament "sub utraque specie" on the day of the coronation, but it was all nonsense. She did not take it at all. The Chamberlain left on the 18th. He did not go before as the ship struck, and he was nearly killed. They sent a post to the bishop of Ely and Wotton telling them to go on to the place of meeting without waiting for the Chamberlain, and begin the negotiations.
The person I told your Majesty had been in hiding in the Treasurer's chambers in the palace, I know now to have been Guido Cavalcanti. I believe the departure of the Chamberlain was delayed to await the answer this man would bring from France, but up to the present he has not returned. I am having him well watched so that directly he puts foot on shore they will let me know, and if your Majesty wishes even for some trick to be played on him it can be done.
The Catholics in this country, who are many, place all their hope in your Majesty, and it is curious how anxious they are to know what I am doing. When we have to come to close quarters they will all be on your side and against the king of France as they think they will be ruined if he gets his foot in here. The heretics announce that your Majesty is going to Spain, and the Queen asked me if it were true the last time I saw her, saying that she had been told you had written to that effect to the late Queen, I said I was not aware of it. In Scotland I believe they are ill-treating the English. I am sure they are not doing it so much as I could wish.
I beg your Majesty to send me the letter for which I ask.— London, 31st January 1559.
Endorsed : "Copy of the letter written to His Majesty."


1 This is sometimes assumed to mean the province of Minas Geraes, in Brazil, but in the present case the context clearly proves it to be Elmina, on the coast of Guinea.