February 1559


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Martin A. S. Hume (editor)

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'Simancas: February 1559', Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 1: 1558-1567 (1892), pp. 26-36. URL: Date accessed: 16 April 2014. Add to my bookshelf


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February 1559

12 Feb. 14. The King to the Count de Feria.
I received your letter of end of January and wrote to you on the 28th of same enclosing you the autograph letter you asked for with which I am sure you will have carried forward the discussion of this matter. In the interests of all and particularly in the cause of religion it is most important that no time be lost and for certain reasons which you know and others which you will understand delay will be most detrimental. I have been pained to hear from you that the first thing they proposed in Parliament was to reform or change the religion, as I see the harm and trouble that may result from it both in England and the rest of christendom, and the danger being so imminent, it behoves us to use all speed to obviate the evil which threatens unless God should ordain otherwise. I therefore wrote to the duke of Alba an autograph letter, of a portion of which I enclose a copy, asking him, Ruy Gomez, and the bishop of Arras their opinion on the matter, so that I should not have to decide on a question of such great importance on my own opinion alone. They answered me as you see by copy enclosed, and after deeply considering their answer with the rest of my Council of State I have decided that as soon as you receive this you will seek the best opportunity you can to see the Queen and tell her from me that as a good and true brother who really wishes her well both on account of our relationship and because I desire to see her firmly and peacefully established on the throne, I must warn her to ponder and consider deeply the evils which may result in England from a change of religion, particularly thus early in her reign, and the dissensions and perturbation which may arise therefrom ; and I therefore beg and entreat her to hold her hand and not to allow any innovations seeing how much the preservation and stability of the state depend upon it. You will enforce this with all the good arguments and most persuasive words which you can employ so as to prevent such pernicious novelties being adopted to God's offence. You will use in this matter every mode and form you may think best and all the care and diligence that such an important affair demands, but if notwithstanding all your efforts you see that they still go on with their intention, and that you can obtain no success in that way, you had better consider whether it will not be well to press the Queen by saying that if this change is made all idea of my marriage with her must be broken off, and if she has any thoughts of the marriage this may be efficacious. Of course you will be best able to judge if this can be taken advantage of and if so when, where, and in what manner, as you are on the spot and probably have some further knowledge of the Queen's feelings. I therefore entrust this matter to your prudence, tact, and experience, leaving you to proceed how and when you think best according to the humour of the Queen, because from here no more precise orders than these can be given to you only to recommend the matter to you very earnestly for the service of Our Lord and the welfare of His religion. Advise us at once what is done. I am pleased at what you say about the number and spirit of catholics of England and their devotion to me, and you must try to keep them the best you can. Respecting my going to Spain you will satisfy them as you like so as not to harm the principal business, as you are aware of my real intention and the importance of my going thither. My Commissioners met those of the king of France on the 6th instant, but nothing passed but salutations as the French would only consent to begin where they left off, namely, on the English question, so they were all waiting for the arrival of Lord Chamberlain Howard who, as the duke of Alba writes, arrived there on the 9th instant, and they were to begin to treat at once. I am sure we shall soon see the result of it.
Respecting Guido Cavalcanti I have only to say that you must try to find out what he brings from France on his return, using any means or ways you think fit. I thank you for your care in keeping me well advised, and it is hardly necessary for me to urge you to continue to do so.
Note in the handwriting of the King :
Consider if it will be well also to tell the Queen, in case she should not give way about religion, that she should be suspicious of the heretical party as the French have more communication with them and trust them more, and that the Catholics will never trust the French, which is true, but you will see what arguments are best to use.
Just as I was signing this the courier arrived from Chateau Cambresi bringing me news that after my people had communicated with the English they found them all as firm about Calais as ever, and Howard and his colleagues said that they had no other instructions about Calais or anything else than they had before and consequently my people were in fear of a rupture. I do not know whether these English are trying to deceive us here, or have deceived you in saying that they had an open commission about Calais. The French are as hasty as the devil, and so I fear the worst for me as I can hold out no longer. You must consider whether you can do anything more or wait to see what happens at the next meeting, of which I will advise you at once. They certainly must be pressed either to help me very handsomely or let me make peace, for it is most important to me.
Draft of a letter in cipher, indorsed 10th February 1559.
15. Count de Feria to the King.
After writing to your Majesty on the 31st ultimo and before I received the autograph letter I had asked for from your Majesty to the Queen I took the opportunity of going to speak to her about remedying the injuries done here to ships belonging to the subjects of your Majesty, and then pressed the business that I had commenced, and although we were in colloquy for a long time I came away that night without having decided anything. Two or three days afterwards your Majesty's letter arrived, and I went to deliver it to her, and we again returned to the subject when I pressed more than ever for an answer. After a great deal of argument she said she would give it me the next day. I let some days pass and then sent to say that I did not desire to be importunate nor to be wanting in my duty. She then gave me audience, and we once more entered on the question. She began to answer me by keeping to her old arguments for not wishing to marry, but seeing whither she was tending I cut short the reply, and by the conversation which followed together with what had preceded, as well as the hurry she was in to give me my answer, I soon understood what the answer would be, namely, that she did not think of marrying, and so to shelve the business with fair words. It ended, however, in our agreeing that I would have no answer that was not a very good one, and so I left the matter open as I thought that, knowing as I did her feeling then, it would be well to have time to advise your Majesty of what had happened in order that your commands might be given as to the best course to pursue. I thought best to furnish your Majesty with a detailed account of everything by sending over the bishop of Aquila who is the person through whose hands have passed all things that have been done, and who has a full knowledge of everything which your Majesty should know, but which from their nature are matters that I cannot satisfactorily give an account of in letters. He was ready to start when your Majesty's post of 11th arrived and two others from your Commissioners at Cambresi of 11th and 13th, bringing me news of what was being done there, and seeing that we have to deal at the same time with three affairs of so great an importance as religion, peace, and matrimony, I thought that the peace question was the most pressing, and the Bishop deferred his departure, in order to help me, until the Queen has resolved what to do, when he will go. With this I went to the Queen the evening before last and said I heard she had letters from her Commissioners as I also had received some from your Majesty. I then waited for her to speak first as I thought better to make her talk and get to understand what she had in her mind after reading the Commissioners letters, so that I might govern myself according to her humour. She began by saying it was true they had written about the difficulties they had encountered in treating with the French and proposing certain means of agreement such as marriages and so on, of which she appeared to make small account, and having spent some words on these and expressed her annoyance at the French she said they had also informed her that the duke of Alba had signified to the Chamberlain that your Majesty must come to an agreement in any case. I answered that it was impossible in discussing matters in all their bearings to help saying what appears obvious about them, and so I smoothed her down a little, but I plainly see that these heretics she has about her had seized upon this point to incense her against your Majesty, as I know they perpetually do.
She also told me she was astonished that the Commissioners had not written to her anything about the war with Scotland. I answered that I had no information about it but that I was sure it was a point upon which they would not fail to treat, although they had not yet reached it, and I then reminded her how, on the occasion of the two months truce at Cercamp, she had been suspicious and had thought that the suspension was more for your Majesty's objects than for hers, and would not believe me when I tried to persuade her to the contrary. I now rejoiced that she had been convinced by what her Commissioners had written to her that all I had said on behalf of your Majesty had been true as well as your brotherhood and friendship to her, for not only had the truce given her time to discuss and arrange her affairs with due deliberation, your Majesty in the meanwhile maintaining a strong force at enormous cost, but notwithstanding that you had reduced the king of France to accept all your Majesty required for yourself, yet you insisted upon the English questions being settled fittingly before concluding peace. She expressed her gratitude to your Majesty and acknowledged that all I had told her was true, and we then touched upon the pretensions of the queen of Scots which the French have put forward at which she is much offended, and she began to rave against them and said what she would do if it were not for other reasons. She said her subjects were not so poor that money and arms could not be got, and she knew what soldiers she had. I was glad to see her so offended and indignant about it, and I thought it would bring her round to our object if I told her that although she knew I could not fail to be pleased to see her angry with the French, who were enemies of your Majesty and hers, yet I must not omit to tell her that great princes like her had to take many things into consideration to ensure success in their enterprises, and should not enter into them rashly to the subsequent damage of their reputation, and to tell her the truth, in the time of the late Queen things were not in a fit state for her to undertake a war with France with a sufficient force as Her Majesty was very poor and the English unusually inexperienced in war. She said that she was even poorer still in consequence of the expenditure of the late Queen, which seemed to contradict what she had just said when she was railing against the French. I went on to say that I quite believed there was plenty of money in the country, but that it was difficult and dangerous to get it out of the people as they were so proud and excited, and in this she agreed with me. After this we returned to the great obligations under which she and the country were to your Majesty, and on this point I enlarged as well as I knew how, saying that up to the present everybody had seen how your Majesty had fulfilled your part of the friendship and alliance between us, and I was anxious to see what she would do on her side in return, as hitherto all the thanks your Majesty had received for the benefits you had conferred upon them was to be slandered by saying that war was declared with France for your sake, whereas the Queen had many good and sufficient reasons for declaring war with them, and that Calais had been lost which was manifestly their own fault. They blamed your Majesty too for the expense of the fleet, which, as I had pointed out was not raised at your Majesty's instance at all, but for other reasons, and finally, they allege that your Majesty had taken away large sums of money from the country, this being utterly false, as I had already told her. She answered that she knew what I said was true and wished it made public, particularly as regards the money taken out of the country. I followed this up by asking her to consider, after all you had done for the country and for her personally, and seeing your dominions so wasted with war, and an honourable peace offered to you, whether it was not hard that such a necessary boon to christendom so universally desired should be cast aside for the sake of one town alone. I said I did not know how your Majesty's subjects and allies would take it, seeing that so great a sacrifice was to be made for this respect alone, and for these and many other reasons I prayed her to consider very deeply the interests of herself, your Majesty and christendom in general, as it was necessary for your Majesty to take steps speedily either to conclude peace with the French or to prosecute the war which must be done, however, very differently from what it was done before, enlarging much upon this as your Majesty's Commissioners wrote to me. She replied that she would discuss with her Council the instructions to be sent to her Commissioners, and she would have a decision arrived at speedily although she saw no way of agreeing unless the French returned Calais to her within a short time. I said that as Her Majesty had deigned to hear me so graciously, and seeing the good understanding that existed in the matter between her Commissioners and those of your Majesty I ventured to ask that I might be allowed to be present when it was discussed in the Council. The members were reported to be prudent, and I knew that she was as prudent as all of them put together, but still as I was acquainted with foreign affairs and had been engaged for some time past in English matters, it might be of some service to Her Majesty to hear me in the discussion. She replied that she would do so with pleasure and would show me the instructions that were to be sent to the Commissioners. If she does as she promises I shall try to bring them round to some settlement that the French will accept, and, if possible, get them to send more open instructions to the Commissioners so that your Majesty's representatives there may persuade them to close the business speedily. I am still of opinion as I have written to your Majesty before, that they will make peace without Calais both on account of the state of things here and because I hear so from many persons of high position, besides the general opinion that the Chamberlain bore instructions to that effect. I feel sure that these difficulties and those about the marriage are inventions of the devil and of these heretics who surround the Queen who think that everything stands in the way of their heretical designs. If they cannot agree on terms with the French nor are disposed to prepare suitably for carrying on the war (which they cannot do, and even if they did I would not accept it unless I had your Majesty's orders) I think it will be best to pick a quarrel with them on that question and on religion and the marriage, so that we can press them again in that way or open the door for your Majesty, if nothing else can be done, to act in your own interests. When this is decided the Bishop will go to give your Majesty an account of the state of the country and the dissensions which are feared, and all other points which may be necessary for your Majesty's guidance as to your relations with these people, and in the event of their ruin, to provide beforehand for what must be foreseen and provided for, as is fitting in all things, but particularly on this occasion. I will not dilate upon this point now but will leave it for the Bishop's visit as I do not wish to talk out of season, and I think the first thing I have to do here at present is to try to get this answer sent off at once and get rid of the question that impedes the conclusion of peace. When this is disposed of I can attend to the other two questions of religion and marriage, which are really only one, and I can speak more freely about them when the peace is settled.
I have thought best not to speak in earnest to the Queen about religion yet, although I see her plainly going to perdition, but it seems to me that if the marriage is carried out the rest will soon be arranged, and all will proceed in accordance with the glory of God and the wishes of your Majesty, whilst if the marriage do not take place all I could say to the Queen would be of little avail as she is so badly advised by the heretics she has around her and in her Council, and it might even greatly prejudice the conclusion of the principal matter.
After talking a long time on these points the Queen wished to be seated and seemed to expect that I was going to re-open the former conversations. I did not wish to begin on that subject again, and only said that all these difficulties could be overcome if only Her Majesty would do certain things which I would talk about when we had got rid of the other affair (i.e. of the peace). She gave me no answer, but she understood very well what I meant, and that I was displeased with the result of the last audience in which, as I told your Majesty at the beginning of this letter, she was going to give me an answer to the effect that she did not mean to marry, and questioned the power of the Pope about the dispensation, and with this the conversation ended. In the meanwhile I think it will be well for your Majesty's commissioners to speak with the Queen's commissioners on this subject of religion, and express their sorrow at the wickedness which is being planued in this Parliament which consists of persons chosen throughout the country as being the most perverse and heretical. The Queen has entire disposal of the upper Chamber in a way never seen before in previous Parliaments, as in this there are several who have hopes of getting her to marry them, and they are careful to please her in all things and persuade the others to do the same, besides which there are a great number whom she has made barons to strengthen her party, and that accursed cardinal left twelve bishoprics to be filled which will now be given to as many ministers of Lucifer instead of being worthily bestowed. All the county sees the absurdity of what is going on. I may also tell your Majesty that although the Parliaments usually sit here in the winter for well-known reasons, yet a new Parliament may be convoked in 40 days at any time of the year. I say this in consequence of a remark I see in your Majesty's autograph letter to the duke of Alba.—London, 20th February 1559.
Endorsed : "Copy of letter written to His Majesty."
29 Feb.
Simancas, B. M. M.S., Add. 26,056.
16. The Same to the Spanish Ministers at Cambray.
On the 20th instant I sent your Lordships a copy of the letter I had sent to His Majesty, and on the 21st the Queen despatched a servant of lord chamberlain Howard, but without keeping her promise to me to show me the despatch before she sent it. On the same day I went to see her, and she said as I entered that she had expected me the previous day as I had said I was going to supper with the Treasurer. She then sent her secretary for a copy of the despatch and told me the contents as it was in English. She declared the substance to be that they were to make peace with the French on their promise to return Calais to her within six years with the district round including Newnham Bridge. The King (Philip) in the meanwhile to appoint arbitrators to settle the differences between her and the king of France. That the war in Scotland shall be pacified within two months and hostages given to her. That your Lordships should propose these conditions as from yourselves, and she instructs her Commissioners to let the French know that they are acting in full accord with your Lordships, so that they may know they cannot separate her from the King. I wish to know what your Lordships think of this despatch, as until I receive that information I do not intend to reply on the subject, and although the Queen says this is the last concession she will make I still think we shall get her to stretch a point if necessary, which I do not think it will be, but that the French will be quite willing to promise to restore Calais and then keep their word in their usual fashion.
Although the Queen was so indignant on the day I saw her, as you will have seen by my letter to the King, I learn that this morning Guido Cavalcanti arrived here from France, and the Queen received him at once and was with him for a long time. He brings with him a little Frenchman, but I have been able to learn nothing yet except that Guido has brought the Queen a portrait which she gazed upon intently. I expect to see her to-morrow and shall speak to her about religion, as yesterday the House of Commons decided that the supreme ecclesiastical power was attached to the crown of England. Some of the members spoke in favour of reason so strongly that it was necessary for Cecil to get up a wrangle in order to carry out the wicked plan, and the Bill then passed. To-morrow it goes to the upper house, where the Bishops and some others are ready to die rather than consent to it, as they (the heretics) wish to make all the country swear to respect this enactment, and those who do not are to be held as traitors as they were in King Henry's time. I understand that affairs are moving apace to the great ruin of this country, and not a few of the people are beginning to be dissatisfied with the Queen. She is wrapped up in the idea of getting popular, but she has no party but the heretics.
It is a wretched state of things for a ruler, and worse here than anywhere, as affairs have been disturbed and unsettled so long.— London, 29th February 1559.
17. Memorandum from the Count de Feria.
To remind His Majesty that his Lordship wrote from England last year how His Majesty's interests were imperilled in England. What might probably be feared from the incapacity of the late Queen, notwithstanding her excellent intentions, and the disaffection and deceit of the Cardinal, which were clearly seen then, but which have since been palpably proved to be directed against His Majesty's interests, and to the small benefit of religion ; and respecting this to mention—
About Pedanke.
The matter of Maria Isabella.
Having left so many churches vacant.
What has been heard about his hatred.
What should be done with the servants who go thither.
How, when he returned the second time he found things, as he said, as bad as they could be, all that was feared to the harm of God and His Majesty having happened ; and that all the faithful and Catholic people, although blaming the Queen and cardinal, cast the principal blame on His Majesty for not occupying himself, as he might have done, in their affairs.
That affairs generally are badly managed.
Maria Isabella's affairs.
About the Councillors.
About Paget.
About Lord Chamberlain Hastings.
About the Governor of Calais.
Traitors and hereties that have been pardoned.
The indifference with which His Majesty treated the Queen ; to which cause they ascribe her illness and death.
To this must be added the way in which the Catholics have adhered to His Majesty, and the hopes they base upon him.
How His Majesty has not a man really devoted to him in all the country, but that the Catholic party understand that the welfare and preservation of their religion depend only on His Majesty's assistance, and appear to place thereupon all their hopes. They understand that if the king of France gets his foot in, the country would be ruined spiritually and temporally, as he would only take care to spend their substance and keep them in subjection, without attending either to religion or to the good of the country.
Of the nobility all the young men and most of the old are attacked with heresy, and amongst them the king of France has many adherents who work in his interest. It is believed that amongst their number are the secretary, the earl of Bedford, Nicholas Throgmorton, Peter Carew, M. Grey, and Mason. London, the seaports, and the county of Kent are very heretical.
To this must be added what Throgmorton said, and Cecil's resolution.
They say all the rest of the country is sound and Catholic, together with the few bishops there are ; so that in the aggregate the Catholics are in a majority.
Since the death of the late Queen and the coming of the present one affairs have been directed to the total destruction of religion, and with this object they have thought best to keep friendly with both princes without binding themselves to either. They are so infatuated with this idea that they cannot see their weakness, and that if His Majesty were to step aside and leave them alone with the French they would eat them up, as they have been warned.
The evils that would result from this are very serious.
There can be doubt of their inability to stand alone against the French, as the country has no money, and it is very difficult to be got out of the people, they being so proud and disturbed, and, above all, divided about religion. There is nobody in the country fit for war, nor to govern, nor to obey.
And again, the number of deaths this year has been so great that where there were usually musters of 200 men there are now but 40, as was advised by letter of 14th (?) November.
His Majesty was also advised that things being in this state negotiations were opened with the new Queen, who, with the excitement of her fresh dignity, and all these thoughts and prejudices began in the first two audiences to treat matters with more off-handedness and independence than was to be expected, and showed signs thereof especially by her resolution to remain neutral ; in consequence of which, after advising His Majesty of what was, in his opinion, the best way to treat with her and the Council, the Count decided to absent himself from the palace for some days. This also gave him the opportunity of awaiting His Majesty's orders after consultation with his Council. The result of this was that she sent to the Count telling him to go and see her often, and became more reasonable, which change appears to have been caused by a desire to alter the manner of negotiation, as has since been proved.
After His Majesty wrote his decision about these affairs negotiations were conducted by all suitable and fitting means, as His Majesty as been informed by letters, with the object of putting aside as much as possible all idea of marriage with a subject, and of gaining over her women-of-the-chamber and ministers.
After speaking with her three times since the 14th January, when His Majesty's decision arrived, the Count again spoke to her yesterday evening, and she answered :
That she had no desire to marry, as she had intimated from the first day.
That she quite understood that this marriage would be advantageous to her honour and the preservation of both States, but that these ends could be attained by the maintenance of the good friendship with your Majesty, above all seeing the obligation she was under to maintain it, as she well knew.
The impediment she discovered in the fact of your Majesty having married her sister, and after that she denied point-blank the Pope's power, which she had previously only pointed out indirectly.
That it was not by any means so clear that the queen of Scots would succeed her as the Count said :
That the people did not wish her to marry a foreigner.
And, finally, that several persons had told her that your Majesty would come here and then go off to Spain directly. This she said with great laughter as if she could read the Count's secret thoughts. She is so well informed about this that it looks as if she had seen His Majesty's letters. This should be taken good note of.
His lordship answered as follows :
Seeing what sort of answer she was going to give, he so turned the conversation as not to take her remarks as an answer at all, and left it over for another day, in order to advise your Majesty in the meanwhile of what was going on, and receive instructions ; although it must be borne in mind that though the count feigned not to take the answer she is not likely to reply in any other way.
His Majesty must be informed of the character of the Queen. She is acute, depending upon the favour of the common people, detested by the Catholics, known to everyone, &c., &c.
These heretics that surround her seem to influence her by two ideas ; first, by the heresy that she has been taught from her child hood ; and secondly, by persuading her that she has sufficient strength of her own to defend herself against the French. They are so carried away by their wish to effect these wicked changes that they do not see that their neutrality and her neglect to marry may open the door to disturbances in the country itself, as, indeed, might already have happened but for the hope that your Majesty would remedy it all.
The things discussed and adopted in Parliament for the service of the kingdom.
About the declaration of her legitimacy.
About the power of the Pope, and the means adopted to give the power to her.
About the mass they call the library (?)
The advice given to her that she should marry, and her answer.
The tithes which she has again demanded of the Church. (fn. 1)
The sermons preached this Lent by Cox, Capobacina, (fn. 2) and Grindal.
That Cobham has been, and is, so zealous with his letters from Brussels that it has been necessary to manage him a little, and his lordship has therefore thought well to promise him a pension, although he has not told him how much it will be. The Queen has promised him the wardenship of the Cinque Ports.
That the marchioness of Northampton, his sister, who is in high favour with the Queen, has served His Majesty when opportunity has occurred.
That Wotton, who is a friend and relative of Cobham, has written here telling them not to trust to the French or their promises, and verbally requested Cobham to tell the same to the Queen.
Money should be sent for pensioners at once, and in plenty.
After His Majesty has been told all this, if he gives me an opportunity, he may be told the various things which his lordship indicated to me ; but not as coming from him.
These must be entered into more fully with his Council.
Peace question to the Council.
Something about this to the confessor and the minister.
The manner in which sorrow may be expressed about religion to Wotton and the chamberlain, in case it should be desirable.
To give notice to Monsignor d'Arras first, about the Portuguese ambassador.
How his lordship saw the Queen after the despatch of her letters to Cambresi about the peace, and what passed.
The great effect produced by these conversations.
What has passed with Pembroke, the treasurer, and Robert.
What passed afterwards with Cecil, the Admiral, and Mason.
What has to be borne in mind after due consideration of all these points.
That His Majesty's obligations in these affairs should be considered, and, in sight of them and the state of things here, a fit remedy should be applied.
To consider the perils and troubles which may be feared if no such remedy is provided ; first spiritual and then temporal.
The business of the ships.
Document endorsed : "Memorandum of affairs entrusted to the bishop of Aquila to discuss with His Majesty (1559)."


1 The Bill for restitution and annexation of the firstfruits, &c. to the Crown of this realm, passed the House of Lords on Saturday, February 4th.—D'Ewes' Journals.
2 David Whitehead, who is mentioned by Strype (Life of Grindal) as one of the Lent preachers in 1559 in addition to Grindal, Cox, Sandys, Parker, and Bill.