Henry VIII, the Reign
Letters & Papers: Volume 4
2 June 1525
1378. [TUNSTAL, WINGFIELD and SAMPSON to HENRY VIII.]
Send a duplicate of their letters from Ribadeo, 30 April, showing how they were driven to that coast. On landing got some small nags used for fetching fish at the seaside, the poorest beasts they ever saw bear carriage, which they thought would not have gone with them one day's journey. Would have set to sea again if the wind had served; but after one day's rest got the captain of the town to conduct them through the mountains, where so many horses together had not passed these 100 years. Had to carry in one place four days' provisions, else they should have been famished. The provender was rye,—oats and barley not being to be had. Afterwards passed other mountains, the worst and most rocky they ever saw. In eight days they were clear of Galicia, and then passed through Lyon (Leon) to Castile, where, though not lodged as in other places, "we thought our self well alevied in the respect of more difficile countries which we had passed already." Were met by a chaplain sent by the Emperor to conduct them, a harbinger to get them lodgings, and an "algusel" to help them to obtain necessaries at reasonable prices. Met with Sampson among the mountains of Toledo, and arrived at the city on the morning of the 24 May, after riding forenoon and afternoon, "which here no man useth this hot time of year," and losing several horses for lack of rest. Were met outside the town by two bishops, the Great Master, the marquis of Villa Franca and others.
Obtained audience of the Emperor that same afternoon, though it was Ascension even. His Majesty read the King's letters apart with some of his Privy Council, and then, seeing they had a secret mission, gave them audience in his bedchamber in presence of the lord Chancellor, Nassau, the Great Master, the Comendador Major and John Aleman. He called the ambassadors to a window, where, after congratulating him on the recovery of his health, his sickness having been taken by the King so heartily "that in manner it was common unto you both," and on his success in Italy in taking the French king prisoner, at which the King rejoices as if he had been himself the victor, they told him the King thought by taking good counsel he and the Emperor might bring their common causes "to some notable and desired effect" for themselves and Christendom; that they had it now in their power either to establish their affairs, or suffer their cruel wars to increase; that the King would have sent my lord Legate to his Majesty on the matter, but that he is now "so growing towards age" that so long a journey by sea and land would be dangerous to him; that Henry desired that the Emperor would freely communicate to the ambassadors how he proposed to prosecute their common affairs. They said that before they had left England Henry had "destribyd" his army, appointed captains, and sent orders to have ships ready for transports with a view to the great personal invasion in the end of May, according to treaty; and had long ago sent Fitzwilliam and Sir Rob. Wingfield to my lady Margaret to get horses and limoners for the artillery, and hoys for transports; that he intended, "for winning of time," to send over Norfolk with the vanguard, and the rest of the army, except those who were going with the King himself, who only waited till he should hear what the Emperor meant to do. The opportunity, they said, was not to be neglected, now that the common enemy was in captivity, his nobles and captains slain or taken, his forces defeated, his realm exhausted of money, and his subjects perplexed for lack of counsel and governors. It seemed as if Providence had ordained the postponement till this year of the joint invasion which was to have been made last year. The ambassadors explained their long delay in the voyage, and pressed him to let them know his pleasure the sooner, delivering to him the King's letter written with his own hand, by which he might see his mind. The Emperor read the letter, and after a conference with his Council apart gave answer by his Chancellor, saying he would depute some of his Secret Council to confer with them.
After the Emperor had inquired of the King's health, the ambassadors delivered to him the Queen's letter and congratulation; on which he asked heartily after her welfare, "and, smiling, said he had no fear but lest she should combine with France against him." The writers said they wished he had no greater matter to care for, and all his affairs would go well; which, he said, he was assured of. Delivered my lady Princess's token, which he put on his little finger, and said he would wear for her sake. Talked of her health, age, and learning, and "the manifold seeds of virtues that were in her." The Emperor then said that the French king's mother was making very humble suit for her son's delivery; that on the return of Beaurain (now De Reux), whom he had sent to the French king by France, Francis had sent Brion to know what conditions would be required for his delivery; that he had replied with three conditions requiring full restitution and satisfaction to himself, Bourbon and the king of England; that Bryon inquired if he could have no other answer, and he said none, and that he bade him write for a "resolute answer," and tell it by mouth also: so with that answer he bid him depart next day. (fn. 1) After this, the ambassadors returned home by torchlight.
Next day, Ascension day, accompanied the Emperor to church. Were sent for in the afternoon to Nassau's chamber, where the same personages were present who had been with the Emperor at the secret audience. The Chancellor said they had been commissioned by the Emperor to learn our minds more fully; on which we said they must have heard our demands, but to reduce it better to their minds we repeated them, and pressed for an answer. After retiring for some time, they said the Emperor thought a less force would now be sufficient for invasion, and asked the ambassadors what number they should think necessary. The ambassadors said they were unable to judge, but left it to them, only suggesting that the more powerfully the Emperor invaded France the more easily it would be subdued. The others spoke of a league, offensive and defensive, between the Pope, the Emperor, England, Don Ferdinand, and certain potentates of Italy, which they consider a great stay to the settlement of affairs there. They showed us two letters of Francis, in his own hand, to the Emperor, imploring pity committing himself to his mercy, and in the end praying him "to make of him which is his slave his good brother and ally François; so that by pretty means he calleth himself in his subscription his brother and ally, because the word 'slave' is the last word of the letter, and the rest following in the subscription."
Next day were told by the Chancellor that the Emperor had spent above 1½ million ducats, and by aid of the Italian potentates and of contributions from Henry he had paid his army to the 20 May, although he owed them and old debt of 570,000 ducats; that the revenues of his crown were so distracted in his absence from Spain by the rebellion, that he had nothing to maintain the wars, and had summoned the nobles and cities of Spain to Toledo by the 1 June, from whom he expected an aid of 500,000 ducats;—that he thought they would petition him not to leave the realm until he had his spouse my lady Princess in Spain, in order that a council about her might stay the realm from such revolution, as in his last absence; for which reason he had written to his ambassadors in England since our departure that she might be brought up in Spain, and learn the language and manners of the country. They had also written to their ambassadors to ask Henry that the 400,000 cr. for her dowry might be sent with her to be employed in their common affairs, that invasions might be made by England and Spain, and by Bourbon in Provence, to which, if Henry would contribute 200,000 cr., the Emperor would bear the rest of the expence. The French king and his mother desired a safe-conduct for the abp. of Deambroun, of Dolfany, and the premier president of Paris, and their overtures would be heard, but unless they offered full satisfaction to the King and Bourbon they would not be regarded, and preparations might be made meanwhile to constrain them, if they did not come to reason.
Being asked if we had any commission to treat of the premises, we consulted together, then said the things were very strange, and, to make sure, rehearsed them ourselves, and were told that we had not misconceived them. We then said these things were discrepant from all treaties, especially the delivery of the Princess at so young an age, and her conveyance to this hot climate; and to demand further that she should bring her dowry, which was only to be paid by instalments after the marriage, deducting such debts as the Emperor owes the King. Moreover, either the Emperor or the Princess might die before the marriage took effect, and instead of the King advancing money to the Emperor, the latter was bound, before the personal invasion, to repay the King 150,000 cr. lent him at his last transporting to Spain, besides the King's indemnity. It was strange to ask the King to bear all the expence of three invasions, viz., his own entirely, 400,000 cr. for the Emperor's, and 200,000 for the army of Italy, and yet they did not say whether the Emperor would invade in person. We said we could not believe such demands came from the Emperor. As to the French overtures, we said they would only enable the French to gain time, that both princes might lose their opportunity this summer.
After a consultation, the Emperor's council assured us that their overtures really came from the Emperor, who was obliged to show his necessity to his trusty friend the king of England; that they knew the demands about the Princess were beyond all treaties, but were obliged to rely on the King, who had treasure enough both for himself and his friends, else they could not accomplish the invasion; that, to be in readiness in case the peace came not, they had brought their artillery from Fontarabia and Burgus to Perpinian, where their Almains, men-of-arms, and light horse had destroyed 22 towns and castles of the enemy; that the Emperor now made a great army by sea to go to Genoa and join with certain carracks in keeping the sea and victualling the army that is to enter that coast; and that the Emperor had received some gold from India, which would help. We asked when the grant of Toledo would be paid. They said in three years, but they would be able to raise money on it, and they hoped to get some from the Italians.
Asked where they intended to keep the French king. Were told Francis desired much to be conveyed to the Emperor, and offered his own navy, to be manned by the Emperor, for that purpose, under security, but the Emperor declined; but they trusted we should soon hear he was in safety. Have heard that the Emperor's army by sea is only to take Francis to Naples. Desired them to press the Emperor to tell us his mind touching the personal invasion, and hoped he would strain himself more than he had said, considering how the King was prepared. Next day they reported that the Emperor said he had all things meet for the war except money, but was so exhausted by the army of Italy, which he alone had supported, that he could do no more,—that he would not know what he could do this year till the end of July,—and that it would be better for both princes to treat for peace. On this we consulted together, and having ascertained the first point of our charge, viz., that the Emperor's personal invasion was not feasible, proceeded to advance the second. Told them, though the King would be disappointed, they had dealt plainly with him in not making him look for what was impossible; but perhaps the Emperor could co-operate with him, though not in person. After speaking together apart, they answered that some such way might be found; that Henry might have the aid of Flanders, which was granted before, 3,000 horse and 1,000 foot, to join his army, at their cost, till the Emperor made some personal invasion on this side, after which it should cease, or be at the King's cost; and that Bourbon might enter with the army of Italy, to which Henry should contribute 100,000 cr. We said there was little aid in Flanders,—that Bourbon might enter so slenderly as to dismay the enemy very little, and that it would be the King's invasion, not the Emperor's, if he contributed to its support. We added that it would not be well taken if the King was asked to bear so many charges.
Heard nothing from them on Sunday, 28 May. Next morning the Chancellor told them the Emperor was much perplexed, seeing that he could not get anything of the King towards the Duke's invasion, and was in another perplexity how to stay these countries if he should leave the realm, seeing that he could neither have my lady Princess delivered nor her dowry paid beforehand. He had heard a saying, though he gave it no credence, that my lady Princess was to be married to the king of Scots to knit those two realms in one, and he thought a motion might be made that the Emperor, with the King's consent, should take another wife,—not a French woman, though great offers were made on that side, "but such as hath long before motioned, and a million of ducats offered for her dote." This would enable the Emperor to do much against the enemy, and establish his affairs here.
After consulting together on this strange motion, we said that the report about my lady Princess being offered to the king of Scots was untrue; that the Scots had demanded her, but were refused, as she was promised to the Emperor, although they offered to deliver their king into Henry's hands to be educated in England if Henry would consent to it, and that the overture that the Emperor should be allowed to take another wife would, we thought, be so strangely taken that we durst not be the means of making it. We could not see why Bourbon's invasion should be given up for lack of 100,000 cr., and would undertake that the King would bear the charge out of the 30,000l. borrowed by the Emperor at his last transporting, which was to be repaid before the personal invasion, if the Emperor would bear all the rest, and give the aid of his Low Countries. They said they did not mean this, but that the Emperor should contribute another 100,000 cr., and they thought those 200,000 cr. would enable Bourbon to press the enemy so as to make him speak. Combated this by saying the King would be deserted at the end of two months. Told them, as they appeared inclined to hear the French ambassadors, we would show them the King's mind on that subject; and set forth at great length that the ambition of France had been the great obstacle to the union of Christendom; that the kings of England were heirs general of France, and had a special claim to Normandy and other districts as their patrimony and private inheritance; that France laid claim to many parts of Italy, and had always striven to diminish the authority of the Empire; that, though the French might be willing to pay a large ransom for their King, and restore some of their wrongful acquisitions, they have never regarded treaties when they had power to encroach on their neighbours; and that the only security for the peace of Christendom was that the king of France and his posterity, "which be descended of such as ever have been usurpers, should be extirpate, removed, and clearly repelled, with all his lineage, from the government of France for ever." The Council acknowledged the truth of what we had said, adding that France detained from them many pieces, including Provence, "of which they had found an investiture made by an Emperor under a seal of gold to the kings of Arragon," and other territories adjoining Perpignan, extending almost from the Mediterranean to Guienne.
Heard nothing from them next day; but on the 31 May the Chancellor gave them the Emperor's resolute answer, viz., that he had written to his ambassadors on the 4 May to make the above overtures about the Princess and her dowry, or that the Emperor might be allowed to take "the daughter and sister of Portyngale," which his nobles greatly desire, offering him an aid of 500,000 ducats for the purpose, besides the million he will have in dote; and that he hoped for a brief answer, as he had written by land to my lady Margaret that, if his ambassadors had left England before the arrival of his letters, she should send over to Henry for an answer. He wished us to remain until the answer came. Having thus been unable to obtain either the first or second point of our instructions, and knowing their need of money to be unfeigned (for the pay of the Emperor's household servants is in arrear, some for 20, some for 12 months, and the least for 9), we thought it needless any longer to blow at a dead coal. Told them, however, that we were glad the overture about the Infanta of Portugal did not go through us, as our commission was to knit more closely the alliance with England. Asked, in view of the coming of the French ambassadors, for whom lodging was prepared, how the Emperor had taken our proposal about the French king, adding that the French would care less about an English invasion if their ambassadors were heard in Spain. They said the Emperor acknowledged all we said of the French to be true, and that they would only yield to force, for which reason he would call the council of Arragon, and demanded the accustomed aid of 500 men-of-arms and 500 light horse; that no harm could come of hearing the French ambassadors, for, as their object was only to put off time, "they said we should rock them on sleep as well as they thought to do us;" and that they would never listen to their offers unless they would satisfy the King as well as the Emperor.
Asked the Chancellor where they meant to keep the French king, as they had heard rumors from others. He said at Naples, whither, he believed, he was already conveyed by 15 galleys from Genoa. The Spanish foot were to go with him, Bourbon remaining at Milan. The Chancellor said that Francis had demanded the dowager of Portugal in marriage, and her daughter for the Dauphin, both which were denied him, and that the Emperor meant to give Bourbon the Dowager, as he had promised. He thought Bourbon would not be able to do anything before the end of August. We said this would be too late in the season, but he said not for those parts. We said it would be for the parts Henry was to invade. The Chancellor only replied that, if nothing be done this year, nothing could be done the next. He said Hugh de Moncada would be here shortly from the French king, and was now at Saragossa.
Thus Henry will see if he do anything this summer he is like to do it alone. By consenting to the Emperor's marriage in Portugal, you may "have thankfully my lady Princess in your own hands," and many great princes may be kept in hope of having her till she come of age, whereas, if promised to one, he may not feel secure of her, seeing she has been promised to two already who have not had her. Also, by consenting to the Portuguese marriage, the King will defeat that with Madame d'Alençon, with whom great offers will assuredly be made. The people here are anxious for the Emperor to marry for the succession, as his brother Fernando is not likely to have children, his wife being corpulent; but the Council do not talk of this. We certainly think, from the Chancellor's words, that the Emperor will not co-operate with the King in an invasion either this year or the next.
Having failed on the first and second points of their instructions, have not demanded hoys or transports, or the repayment of the 30,000l. before the King's invasion, but have given them no inkling as yet that they are commissioned to treat of peace, otherwise they would not have confessed their poverty, though all the country knows it. When asked once if we had any commission to treat of peace, we replied that the making of war was our errand, for which we had as large a commission as they could wish; and since they profess they give the French a hearing only to gain time, we think it better to hold aloof; but we shall hearken to the Chancellor whether the French have brought any commission to treat with us. Hear also that the Emperor is going to Monson, on the borders of Catalonia and Arragon, to hold the council of those parts, which is very far from Biscay, so that great diligence must be used.
Hear that the French king says he did like a hardy man of war, not like a good captain, in not considering how to return without loss of his army. Are told that Brion, when treating for his master's redemption, being informed that the king of England must be also satisfied, "in a great despite and fume made a philip, saying 'What care ye for the king of England, with whom my master, if he had been four days more untaken, had been full agreed?' as he should show it to the Emperor by writing." (fn. 4) Brion departed the day after we first spoke with the Emperor.
Have sent back the King's ships, as their victuals and wages expire on Midsummer eve, and they know not when to expect an answer. The bark of Portsmouth called the Marget Henouse is not fit for service. She could not keep up with the others on the voyage, and had better be used to carry mussels.Toledo, 2 June. [Not signed.]