Henry VIII, the Reign
Letters & Papers: Volume 19 Part 1
Norfolk and Others to Henry VIII.
Norfolk remains in camp at Beaulieu and the lord Privy Seal at Fynes, within a mile, awaiting the King's orders. Are conveniently placed to besiege Arde and little out of the way to besiege Bouleyne, and in the highway towards Mounstreull. Expected, ere this, to have learnt the King's pleasure. Norfolk has straitly examined the false knave that De la Vigne sent to the King with the sy[ph]re, (fn. n3) who confesses that the French king was privy to his sending, as appears by his confession in Latin and English herewith. He is sent to be kept at Calais. Norfolk learns from Mons. du Rieulx and from espials that Vandosme is at Abville with 10,000 footmen and 500 men of arms, waiting till we pass the river of Mounstreull, and devastating the country afore us about Routy, where Du Rieulx holds the castle and thought to have lain for conveyance of victuals if we should besiege Mounstreull. Last night about 9 o'clock Mons. de Bures came to make excuse that he was not sooner ready, saying that it was because he had so late warning to levy the last 500 and 400. He trusts to have all within a few days, and lies at St. Omer till we send for him. He said often that if a camp of 5,000 or 6,000 men were put into Mounstreull it would not be had without a long siege, and that it was pity to delay going over the Somme. Think he learnt these terms of Du Rieulx, who used the same when with Norfolk. He said the Emperor would hasten towards Paris, where they "began to take down the faubourgs and to fortify one part of the town and to abandon the rest"; and all France was in great fear; also that the Emperor was at Mese and the Viceroy at Istenay, hoping to win it; and that the Emperor would march towards Chalons, which the French fortify.
All women and unable persons are avoided out of Ard, Mounstreull and Boleyne, the captains of which profess themselves ready for siege. Camp at Beaulieu, 22 June. Signed.: T. Norfolk, J. Russell, John Wallop, Franssys Bryan.
Slightly mutilated, pp. 3. Add. Endd.: 1544.
"Jehan Alberge saith that, in the month of May 1544, coming from Bourges in Berry to the Court of France, chanced to see there La Vygne," who asked if he would carry a letter in cipher to the King of England and he should have high reward of the French king. As he was poor and La Vygne was his old friend, he agreed. La Vygne said he had "a cipher for the purpose, devised by the King's Majesty of England," who would rejoice at the letters and recompense the bearer. Afterwards he was sent for by the Cardinal of Tournon, by whose and two others' counsel it was determined that he should carry the letters, which should be written by the French king in La Vygne's name. And so he tarried certain days for the letters, they telling him that the King would first consider the articles which he had received, of La Vygne, out of England. Within seven days he was called to the Cardinal of Tournon, with whom were Secretary Labespine and General Bayard, but not La Vigne. Tournon there showed him two letters, which the said Secretary read to the other two, but so softly "that he could not hear them; and was commanded twice or thrice to retire and not to hearken." Then La Vigne arrived and he was despatched, and one of the Cardinal's men commanded to bring him to the treasurer to receive 60 cr., the Cardinal and Secretary saying that, if he handled the matter well, he should have 200 cr. at his return and never lack afterwards, and advising him to carry little money with him. Then La Vigne caused a pair of new shoes to be made for him and the said two letters to be sewed betwixt the soles. The said secretary gave him the King's safe-conduct, which, with his cloak, he left at Boulogne with Mons. de Foucquesolles and Mons. de Vervyn. La Vigne gave him a private letter to Marshal du Bees, which he delivered to the Marshal at Monstreull; and the Marshal advised him to go to Calais by Bouloigne and not by Guysnes, "whereupon he had there a guide and a horse and departed thence very early in the morning." He was straitly charged that, if questioned about the Turks that were in France, he should say that they were gone to spoil the coasts of Spain and would return; "but he saith indeed the French king was very sorry that the said Turks were departed thence not minding to return." The Cardinal told him he should have been brought to the speech of the King, but that there were so many spies of England in the French Court. At his return he should certainly be brought before the King and receive favour.
The Cardinal charged him to persuade the King of England against proceeding in the journey towards Paris, alleging that very shortly Paris would be made inexpugnable, at the cost of the inhabitants; but the work was not yet begun lest the people should perceive any fear for a thing so far from the frontiers, although the bruit was that the Emperor would come straight towards Paris. He was commanded to observe whether the King of England would send his army and whether he would address it to any port in France. Also to note the numbers, dress and appearance of the men, when they intended to march, what nobleman should conduct them, and whether the King would come in person. If asked whether the French king sent him, he was instructed to answer that the letters he brought declared whence he came. If any said "that La Vigne was a false man and deceived the King's Majesty," he was to answer that he marvelled thereat and had "never perceived no such thing in him and could not believe the same." He was to enquire secretly what preparations were made for war and not return without some profitable knowledge, and was instructed (example given) how to ask questions indirectly. He was to say that the French king would not give battle this year, and that the best way to grieve him was for the English army to join the Emperor's (for thus, the Cardinal said, both should shortly lack victuals). La Vigne added to his instructions that a merchant of Normandy who haunted England had talked with the French king, and seemed, by his gestures, to speak of the King of England. That he might be the better believed, La Vigne "gave him the oration that the Cardinal of Belay made at the last sitting at Spyres." (fn. n4) At Boulogne Vervyn and Foucque[solles] caused a "dromcelad" and another footman to conduct him by night within sight of Calais; and there he delivered his horse to them and went "into myrery plasche therby and spotted hymself with myre, to seme that he had escaped in hast away on foote." All he can allege for and against himself is that all was done for the advantage of the French king.
The sayings of Alberge, De la Vigne his servant, touching his sending into England; also in another hand: "Rex Idumeus Salamon. Misericordia et veritas custodiunt Regem et roboratur clementia thronus ejus."