December 1547, 16-31


Institute of Historical Research



Martin A. S. Hume and Royall Tyler (editors)

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'Spain: December 1547, 16-31', Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 9: 1547-1549 (1912), pp. 237-241. URL: Date accessed: 16 April 2014. Add to my bookshelf


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December 1547, 16–31

Dec. 27. Vienna Imp. Arch.Van der Delft to the Emperor.
Since writing my letters of the 12th instant I have received your Majesty's despatches of the 2nd, with letters of credence for the King, the Protector, Controller Paget and others. I had previously found the Protector very favourably inclined towards my arguments for the continuance of the Commercial Treaty of 1522, touching the wool staple at Calais, and consequently I considered it sufficient to deliver only the letters directed to him and to the King. He accepted it with great courtesy, and listened kindly to the considerations I laid before him to the end in view.
When I had finished my address he said: “I quite approve of what you say with regard to continuing the treaty in question, in order that no innovation should be made between our two sovereigns who are now in such close amity. Indeed, I am in favour of maintaining all the existing treaties.” He said that, with this object, he would at once write to their ambassador, instructing him to address your Majesty on the subject, and to beg me to send you powers to settle with them here for a prolongation of the said commercial treaty for a period of ten years, by which time the King will be out of his tutelage.
I fell into conversation with the Protector about the action of the French in having knocked down some structures that their people (the English) had put up in the Boulognais, but so far as I can perceive, they are still in doubt whether they will go to war with them or not. The Protector told me that Monsieur de Chatillon had sent a gentleman to the English commander at Boulogne, to tell him that he had razed the places constructed by evil disposed Englishmen, in violation of the treaty between the King of France and their master, the King of England. (fn. 1) The King of France, he said, intended to comply with and observe the treaty in all amity and good faith, so that if the English liked he (Chatillon) would also demolish the castle or fort of Fiennes, which was in his possession.
A reply to this message was drafted here, to the effect that the French had no right to do as they had done, but if they wished to make partial amends for their past proceedings they might do so by retiring from Fiennes without demolishing or disturbing any thing that they (the English) had constructed, and leaving the place as they had found it. Your Majesty will understand better than I can to what end the message and offer of Chatillon are directed.
With regard to Scotland, the Protector told me that the troops of the Governor (Regent Arran), who had been before one of their forts called Broughty Craig in Scotland, had all withdrawn after having lost a large number of men and their little artillery; their principal commander having been killed. He said that every day numbers of Scotsmen came in from a hundred miles round to offer their services to the King of England. He had no news of the arrival in Scotland of M. de la Chapelle. He was much surprised at this, because he had received letters from France saying that de la Chapelle had sailed three weeks before the date of the letters, and, as the Protector said, he could not be in Scotland for three days without his knowing of it.
I have understood that they have sent to Captain Court Penninck (Conrad Penninck) instructions to raise troops for them, but the matter is kept strictly secret, and I have not been able to discover yet how many are to be raised or where they are to serve. Colonel Gamboa (fn. 2) has been also commissioned to raise two companies of Spaniards, and they are coming over every day from France.
Parliament has just been prorogued until the month of April, and up to the last they have been disputing hotly about religion. So far as I can understand, they will hold to the disorder professed by the men of Wittemberg; but nevertheless Mass is still celebrated; although I know not how long it will last.
The Bishop of Winchester has been twice to see the Protector, and it is believed that he will shortly be released. A few days ago there arrived here Friar Bernardino de Siena, Peter Martyr the Florentine, and a German who is said to be a relative of Dr. Jonas. They have been well lodged by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
London, 27 December, 1547.
Dec. 27. Vienna Imp. Arch.Van der Delft to the Council.
Following my last letters of the 12th instant I have been pressing diligently for a definite reply from the Protector to my representations about the continuance of the commercial convention of 1522 concerning the wool staple, and also on the questions of the customs tallies and the restitution to Madame d'Egmont and the Seigneur de Morbecque of their estates situated in the Boulognais. But these people have been so constantly occupied with their Parliament that they have been prevented from attending to the business referred to; and I have consequently been unable to obtain audience, except for a time on Christmas day, although I had previously sent word to the Protector that I had a letter of credence from the Emperor addressed to him. When I saw him on Christmas day I delivered the letter and repeated to him in substance what I had said to him previously about the three points in question as I have written to your lordships. . . . . . .
(The details of the writer's interview with the Protector are substantially the same as those contained in the letter to the Emperor of the same date.)
He would, he said, consult with the Council with regard to the continuance of the commercial treaty, but he would send and tell me later for how long a period it should be prolonged. This he did yesterday evening, when the first Secretary, Dr. Petre, came and said that the renewal should be for ten years. He handed me letters to this effect that they had written to their ambassador resident with the Emperor, asking me to forward them with my own despatches, which I promised to by this courier. Your lordships will doubtless recognise the desirability of expediting the power as much as possible, in order that the affair may be carried through before these people alter their minds, the price of wool being as high here as ever it was. The common people are strongly opposed to the wool being sent out of the country, and attempts are being made to induce some Spaniards to bring wool hither from Spain.
I also spoke to the Protector on the subject of the abuses which are being committed in this wool trade; that the fleeces were picked (comme l'on espluchoit les peaulx) whereby their merchants of the staple were benefited, as he (the Protector) must have heard from the complaints made to Parliament by their own people. He assured me that he had heard nothing about it, but it was probable that this point had been postponed with several others for consideration when Parliament reassembles in the month of April.
With regard to the Customs tallies the Protector said he had instructed the principal officers of the exchequer to send him detailed reports of them. He had, he said, received these reports, and since I had entered the house he had caused them to be searched for everywhere amongst his papers; but had been unable to find them, so he was obliged to defer the discussion of the matter for the present.
Dealing then with the subject of the restitution of the estates of Madame d'Egmont and the Signeur de Morbecque, he said that he would see that the restitution was duly made; whereupon I remarked that I hoped that this time it would be done effectually, and not as it was on the other occasion, when their officers at Boulogne said they knew nothing about it and refused to carry out the restitution. To this the Protector replied: “No ! no ! we will write to them, and there will be no hitch, but the conditions laid down for the concession must be fulfilled.” To this I answered that he would find that everything I had undertaken by instruction of the Queen Dowager would be strictly fulfilled, and her Majesty also would take the most scrupulous care not to write in support of any claimants unless she was quite satisfied as to the justice of their claims. I gave the full names of Madame d'Egmont and S. de Morbecque to Secretary Petre that he might make out the documents.
In the course of my conversation with the Protector I learnt about the French having knocked down some structures the English had built in the Boulognais. (The letter continues and concludes in similar terms to those in the letter to the Emperor of the same date.)
London, 27 December, 1547.
Paris K. 1487.Paper headed (in French) “Copy of What They White From Paris To The Abbé De Saint Vincent Respecting Canada.”
Most honoured Sir,—In accordance with your letters I have made enquiries respecting these new lands, but have been unable to discover any letter specially from them. Yesterday after the lesson on the sphere which is given by a Spaniard very learned in mathematics named Jo. Martinez the great Latinist whom you may know as the Queen's physician, I had a long conversation with him whilst we walked together to the Sorbonne, where he was going to sup. He had in the course of his lesson mentioned the torrid zone, and I seized upon this opportunity for introducing the subject that interests us, by saying that the ancients appeared to have been greatly in error in believing that the said land (i.e. Canada) was not inhabited; whereas the Spaniards had now found it perfectly habitable.
He replied that not only the Spaniards, but the French, the Germans and many others had found it so. I then asked him whether he had heard if this Strait by which Roberbal intended to sail was open and navigable to pass through to the other side, and so to reach the Moluccas or to Peru; and if the latitude and longitude of these new lands had been fixed. He replied that there was nothing certain known about it yet, as the men who had gone thither were not mathematicians, and were consequently not capable of giving a good description of the situation of these places. With regard to this Northern Strait about which I enquired especially, everything almost depended upon it. He said that a pupil of his had been there since; but they saw when they looked inside the Strait that the sea was like great mountains of ice, and consequently they were afraid to penetrate any further. It might be deduced from this that the sea would be completely frozen in the winter, and that when the warm weather comes the ice breaks up, the floes being piled one upon another by the action of the storms.
To-day I went to visit M. Oronce in his lodging, and asked him if it would be possible to obtain any charts of the new lands, and whether he had heard anything interesting in his conversations with Roberbal. He said that the intended voyage of Roberbal had been suspended for the present, and he had not time to busy himself with the matter just now. With regard to the Strait, however, he could say that it was not at all navigable; and it would be necessary to go by land, as they could not reach the Moluocas by the way they intended. As to the situation of the Strait, according to the description given by Gema Phrisins (?) in the mappemonde recently made at Louvain, he said it was about 328 longitude and 66 north latitude. (fn. 3)
On the other side towards the south, after passing the equinoxial there is another Strait called by the name of Magellan, which is said on the Louvain chart (for the German charts which resemble that of Louvain do not give the degrees of latitude and longitude) to be in longitude 310 and in south latitude about 53. I understand that this Strait is navigable, and that the Castilians go by it to Peru; and Molucca can also be reached that way. (fn. 4)
Termislitan is on land contiguous between these two Straits towards the west, and in longitude 274, and in south latitude 20. (fn. 5) From there sailing south and turning towards the east is Peru in longitude 290 and 300 or thereabouts, and in south latitude about 5, 8, or 10. All these lands join; and Canada, which I understand is near the said northern Strait, continues far beyond from Temislitan, and still further from Peru. It thus appears that if they cannot get through this Northern Strait, which is said to be as yet unexplored, but which Oronce says is not navigable, they will not hinder or trouble the Castilians. From Peru sailing a long way towards the west lies Molucca, situated on the equinoxial in longtiude 180–182 or thereabouts. I take the longitude in the usual way, counting from the Fortunate Isles in the Atlantic, (fn. 6) towards the East and returning to the Fortunate Isles on the equinoxial. This is all I have been able to discover up to the present. If I can obtain any more good information I will send it to you by the earliest opportunity.


1 The terms of the treaty of peace between England and France provided that no fresh fortifications should be erected by the English at Boulogne and the territory to be held by them pending the payment of the indemnity, and the French were similarly bound. A fort, however, had been erected by the latter on the South of Boulogne Harbour, and the English had masked it with a new earthwork. Several other defensive works had also been constructed elsewhere, as at Fiennes etc.
2 A full account of this Spanish soldier of fortune Sir Pedro Gamboa and of the mercenary Spanish troops he commanded in England will be found in the present writer's Españoles e Ingleses en el siglo XVI, and in The Spanish Chronicle of Henry VIII, edited also by Martin Hume.
3 The “Strait” in question would appear from the latitude to have been the entrance to Hudson's Strait or perhaps the inlet afterwards called Frobisher's Bay.
4 It is extremely curious that the cosmographer whose account is here given was far more advanced in his knowledge of the geography of the American continent than the cartographers of many years later appear to have been; for instance, the Zeno chart of 1558, the Frobisher map of 1576 and 1577–8, and others somewhat earlier show no signs of so clear a notion as this of the real configuration of the whole continent.
5 i.e. Mexico. The name given to the country here is probably a corruption of Tenochtitlan, the Aztec name for Mexico.
6 The Canaries, from which the longitude was always reckoned by the Spanish seamen.