Henry VIII, the Reign
Letters & Papers: Volume 4
INSTRUCTIONS to GARDINER, BRIAN, GREGORY CASALE and VANNES at ROME.
Since the departure of Gardiner the King has by sundry ways been advertised of the Pope's death, so that the charge committed to them cannot be executed. Considering the dissensions among Christian princes, and the prospect of the ruin of the See Apostolic unless the ambition of those who wish to exterminate it is repressed by the help of good and virtuous princes, it is necessary that such a head and common father should be chosen as can and will provide for the restoration of the Holy See, will have the assistance of virtuous princes, and can resist the inordinate ambition of the Emperor, who studies for his own exaltation to suppress the Church.
The King's matrimonial cause, which has been committed to them, delay in which would bring manifold dangers, can only be settled by the special favour of the Head of the Church; and he is loth to recur to any remedy except the authority of the See Apostolic, if he can find there favour answering to his merits, of which favour he would be clearly deprived if the future Pope were a person of whom he was not perfectly assured. The French king is thoroughly united to him. When all the Cardinals are considered, none can be found furnished with the requisites before named, except Wolsey, who is well known to have as fervent zeal as any person for the tranquillity of Christendom, the restoration of the authority and rights of the Church and the See Apostolic, the weal and exaltation of the kings of England and France and their allies, and also for the perfection of the King's cause.
The French king has spontaneously offered to use his influence on his behalf. He is the only person who can cope with the inordinate ambition of the Emperor, establish tranquillity in Christendom, and prevent the injury which will ensue to the Church from the passage of the Emperor to Rome next January. The King expects that the Emperor will endeavor to obtain the election of a Pope who is devoted to him, and take from him all the rights and patrimony of the Church, using him as his vassal and chaplain, or else by little and little "extinct" him and his authority. The King desires them, therefore, to use every means to advance Wolsey's election, as that on which depends the making or marring of the King's cause.
If the future Pope were an enemy to the King, it would be impossible to obtain the King's desire. If he were indifferent, he would get nothing but fair words and delay, as has already been seen in one who had more cause to adhere to the King than to be indifferent. A list is enclosed of the Cardinals likely to be absent and present at the election.
The names of those favourable to the kings of England and France are marked with "a," the Imperialists "e," and the neutrals "n." Thirty-nine Cardinals are expected to be present, and it will be sufficient to gain twenty-six. Twenty are thought to be friendly, so that six only need be gained. If the Cardinals present, having God and the Holy Ghost before them, consider what is best for the Church, they cannot fail to agree upon Wolsey; but as human fragility suffers not all things to be weighed in just balances, the ambassadors are to make promises of spiritual promotions, offices, dignities, rewards of money, and other things, to show them what Wolsey will give up if he enters into this dangerous storm and troublous tempest for the relief of the Church; all of which benefices shall be given to the King's friends, besides other large rewards.
The ambassadors are furnished with a commission for this purpose, and letters to the College of Cardinals, and particular Cardinals, which they are to deliver. By promises and arguments they must firmly unite a band of twenty, eighteen, or at least sixteen cardinals, who will prevent any adverse party from gaining the election, and make the residue more ready to come over to their side. But if any for private ambition persist in contending for themselves, it is evident that they are seeking the ruin of the See Apostolic, and the ambassadors must find means to have some sure persons in the conclave to practise what is necessary, and to send information to them so that they may know how to act. Suggests that De Vaulx should be one to enter the conclave, not as the French ambassador, but as the servant of some Cardinal, and that Gregory Casale should do the like. As this election by one way or other suffereth no negative, if for lack of grace or entendement there should be any despair thereof, the ambassadors are to publish a protestation passed by the Cardinals in England and France, of which a copy is enclosed. This may beforehand be couched and devised by Gardiner, and set forth by the policy of De Vaulx and Casale. The Cardinals on the English and French side will then leave the conclave, repair to some sure place, and proceed with the election, notwithstanding any election that may ensue at Rome.
The ambassadors may offer the Cardinals a guard of 2,000 or 3,000 men, to be in Rome during the election; and if the offer is accepted, they must take money by exchange, and provide the men. The French king has ordered Renzio to lie between the army of Naples and Rome, and the viscount of Turenne and the Venetians will lie on the other side, so that they will be free from fear of the Imperialists.
The Cardinals need not fear that Wolsey would reside at Avignon or other place away from Rome; for, first, he would resign all his dignities, and have no convenient habitation except Rome; and, secondly, the reason of his desiring the Papacy is his zeal for the Church, and he would therefore proceed directly to his See. The ambassadors are to use all means to gain the Venetians, the Florentines, the duke of Ferrara and others.
They must assure the adherents of the Medici of Wolsey's favor; the Florentines, of their freedom; the Cardinals, of the recovery of the patrimonies of the Church; and the Venetians, of a reasonable settlement concerning Cervia and Ravenna. They must show the duke of Ferrara that Wolsey was the means of his alliance with the French king, and promise the continuance of his favour, Bids them have regard to the conduct of the French ambassadors, lest, despairing of the advancement of Wolsey, they incline to some other Cardinal, and refuse to make the protestation. Desires them to assure the Cardinals that, if the Imperialists proceed to an election without the consent of the residue, no prince will favour them except the Emperor and his brother. The King would consent to the election of the cardinal Campegius, if the election of Wolsey were impossible.
Signed by the King at the beginning and end.
2. List of the Cardinals supposed to be imperialists or otherwise.