Henry VIII, the Reign
Letters & Papers: Volume 4
510. WOLSEY to PACE.
On the 6th inst. received his letters sent by a special courier to Machlin, and thence by the King's post, one of which was for the King and Wolsey, and two others for Wolsey alone. There was also an estimate of the monthly expense of the duke of Bourbon's army; a memorial in French given to Pace by Bourbon, mentioning what is requisite of two things to be done for the best advancement of the present affairs; letters to the King and Wolsey from Bourbon, the viceroy of Naples, Mons. Pontivers and the marquis of Pescara, all dated Savilian, 25th ult., except the Viceroy's, which are of the 24th.
Pace mentions the preparations for the passing of the army towards Nice, and his transactions with Bourbon concerning taking the oath, &c., who says that, if Henry will not let slip the great and evident occasion which he has to recover the French crown, he does not doubt he will be able to expel the French king out of France, and to set the crown upon the King's head as true inheritor there.
Pace commends Bourbon's fidelity, mentions his great importance, the weakness of the French king, and says if Henry will not visit France or send his lieutenant it is probable that after winning Provence and Bourbonnais no farther progress will be made.
He also states for how long the army is provided, asks how it will be entertained if the King sit still this summer, and advises Henry to come to Calais. He declares his mind touching such practices as be set forth by the Pope for truce or peace, mentioning two ways by which alone the King can honourably end his enterprise; viz., a notable exploit of war, or conditions of peace whereby it may appear that something is gained in these last wars beyond what had been gained before.
Finally he protests his freedom from partiality, which the King and Wolsey never doubted.
The King and Wolsey like the oath enclosed in the smaller letter to the King very well, especially since it could be obtained in no other form. In a private letter to Wolsey, Pace speaks of Bourbon's protestations of fidelity after he had been "very religiously confessed and communicated," and is very anxious that the Duke should be encouraged, "concluding last of all that, to speak unto me boldly, if I do not regard the premises, ye will impute unto me the loss of the crown of France."
All this Wolsey has laid before the King, and discussed with others of the Council, who thank Pace for his zeal, though they differ from his opinions in some points, Pace being, as he himself writes, alone, and necessarily ignorant of many things which he would know if he were here.
First, it is to be considered that Bourbon's chief reason for making war on the French king is his own private quarrel, which he could not avenge alone, and it was easy for him to see that the Emperor and Henry were the most meet protectors of his cause, which they would not have advocated unless they had perceived some profit for themselves likely to ensue.
Secondly, there is reason to suspect that Bourbon has offered the Emperor Provence, Languedoc and Marseilles, with the subjection of Bourbonnais and Auvergne, which he refuses to hold of the King, affirming that there is a treaty to the contrary, which is not true. Besides, when Provence and Marseilles are taken, to which enterprise the Genoese contribute, bearing the charge of the fleet, it will be more easy to recover the duchy of Burgoyn; and as the French will then be kept from the Mediterranean, Naples will be open to Spain, and secure from the French.
The King's crossing into France will, therefore, be as profitable for the Emperor as for himself. As to the entertainment of the army in case Henry does not cross, a more convenient provision could not be made for the preservation of Provence, Marseilles and Bourbonnais in the Emperor's devotion, and for the laying an antemurale all this winter between France and Milan, than that which Beaurain and other "fine personages" have now made for the Emperor's profit, on pretence that the King shall recover his crown in France.
Pace is aware that it was not intended Henry should advance his army on this side this summer until an opportunity was given by Bourbon's victories, or by a revolution; and as yet he has not gained.
Provence or his own patrimony, and there seems no likelihood of a revolution, as the French king is not so generally hated or Bourbon so generally beloved as Pace writes.
Moreover, between the date of his former letters and his last the army have made no such remarkable progress (more than three or four days' proceeding in crossing the mountains, and the "religious" confessing of Bourbon), to have justified Pace in urging the King so earnestly to cross the sea.
Doubts not that both he and Bourbon will see the impossibility of sending over an army, as a sufficient one could not be levied and transported before the middle of September, when, winter approaching, it could not be maintained in the field more than a month, and no notable exploit could be done in that time.
Treasure would thereby be wasted, and the French gain encouragement. Besides, Picardy is barren of victuals and forage, and there is great scarcity in Flanders and the French frontier at the entry besides Valenciennes, where the King's ordnance is, and in the neighbourhood of Reynes.
A shoulder of mutton is sold in Valenciennes for 12d. FL. The lady Margaret has informed Henry that she cannot assist his army, and therefore all provisions must necessarily come from England, which alone is sufficient impediment to prevent the expedition.
Even if a "mean army" of 10,000 men were sent over, it would be useless, as the French king would be sure to carry away all the provisions in the country through which it would pass. Besides, the French king, finding himself superior to the one power, would turn all his strength against it, and overcome it.
If Henry were to come over to Calais, and stay there for a time, as Pace proposes, without making any enterprise, it would be said that he did so to treat for a peace, or else that he was not able to show other countenance to his enemies except his own presence in his own town, which would be greatly to the hindrance of Bourbon's enterprise, and the French king's power would be never the more diminished, but rather audacity given unto him to pluck his ordinary garrisons from these frontiers, and turn them against Bourbon.
There is a capitulation between the Emperor and Henry for a personal invasion of France next year, and it is better to save treasure, &c. for that, and merely to maintain Bourbon for this year; and in the last treaty it is stipulated that if Henry advance his army this summer he should cease to contribute to Bourbon's army, and if the Emperor failed to furnish it he would lack entertainment, which would be disastrous for both.
It is, therefore, evident that it will be more advantageous for the King to remain this summer, and to contribute to Bourbon.
They perceive by the estimate sent by Pace, written in French, that the charges of the army will amount to 104,000 cr. a month, and that the money in hand will not last for two months from the date of his last letters, 25 June; that is, till the 20 Aug. Is surprised at this, as former letters stated that the Emperor had in readiness 200,000 cr., and the King is not bound to contribute until the army is in France, neither for the passage over the mountains, nor provision of carriage or victuals.
Yet Bourbon asks that 200,000 cr. may be sent as the King's share. He also half hints that if he wins Provence, he will remain with his army in garrison all the winter, which would make it necessary to continue the contribution, the King's share of which until May would amount to 500,000 cr., besides the 20,000l. already sent by Russell. This would be very hard to bear in addition to the charge of the personal invasion for the sake of making an antemurale to Italy.
There is one thing to be regarded, which Pace has not mentioned. The best way for Bourbon to act would be, after entering Provence, to go direct to Lyons, and thence "by a plat country" to Paris, which if he really intends to do, doubtless it will be wise to contribute further.
If the crown be not won, the places and countries recovered or acquired should come to the King to reimburse his charges, if no higher victory ensue. But, considering the army advanced to the sea by the Genoese, who cannot greatly assist Bourbon by conveyance of victuals or otherwise, unless upon the coast of Marseilles and Languedoc, and as he has not mentioned by what way Bourbon intends to proceed, the King somewhat doubts whether all the money advanced will not be spent only for the Emperor's and Bourbon's profit; and therefore, till he sees further in this matter, he will not give over-much comfort to Bourbon, but will not put him in any despair thereof.
Henry is not bound to any further contribution than the 20,000l. already sent, except by special agreement between him and the Emperor; nevertheless, he will put in readiness 100,000 cr. for the entertainment of the army this summer and part of the winter, and on good successes perhaps another 100,000 cr., if the Emperor will do the same. Before these sums are spent it will be clearly seen whether, by any revolution or otherwise, it will be possible for him to obtain the crown of France; and therefore Pace must "substantially regard and foresee that matter.
The King and Wolsey both send letters to Bourbon, the Viceroy, Pescara, Pontever and Beaurain. Encloses copies. Pace is to say to Bourbon and the others that Henry is much pleased with their valiant proceeding, and their firm deliberation to recover the crown for him, "extending that matter with as good words as ye can devise;" and tell Bourbon particularly that, now he has so frankly taken his oath, he may be well assured that Henry will show him more tender mind than ever, if possible, and that he has dedicated himself to a prince who can, will, and is accustomed to recompense all services.
No reports of truce or peace with the common enemy, or of friars or other persons sent hither, have any foundation; and he may trust that no peace will be made without his knowledge, and due regard for his honour and surety.
As to the personal invasion, he is to say that due preparation is being made if any opportunity occur, and to debate with him certain points in that matter, and inform Henry of his advice. The points are, whether the army should be large or not; where the invasion should take place; what places or fortresses he hears of as likely to revolt; how he can join him, as he says he will, considering the distance between Picardy and Provence; how victuals may be had, as his own servant reported that wheat and other grain was very scarce, owing to the unreasonableness of the weather.
He is also to mention the long time which must elapse before an army can be ready, as was seen in their own case, since, after the expulsion of the French from Italy in the beginning of May, they were not ready for the passage of the mountains until the 16th June, and had scarcely entered the enemies' country on the 25th, and to show that it would not be well to make the invasion this year.
Concerning their entertainment, to encourage them more, he shall say that the King is putting money in readiness from time to time to be sent to them as the case requires, and that exchanges shall be made for that purpose; but if they do not proceed by the ways most profitable for the King, and refuse battle, he will be loath to contribute.
It would be best to proceed to Lyons, which the French king would be sorry to lose, and so would probably give battle. He is also to show that for causing the French king to divide his forces, the increase of the garrison of Calais, the preparations by land and sea, the mounting and trimming of the artillery and ordnance at Valenciennes, and the report of the invasion, is the best means that can be devised, as Francis shall not know in what part the army will descend, especially as he knows that there is artillery enough here and at Calais without meddling with that at Valenciennes.
If Bourbon's army do earnestly proceed, and march into the heart of France, and events happen which will render an invasion profitable, whatever season it be, they may be well assured that it will be done, either personally or by lieutenant.
Since writing thus far it is reported that the prince of Orange in his way to the army is taken prisoner; that the Genoese army coming toward Marseilles is returned; that Bourbon is stopping at Nice in Savoy, and is not likely to come to Lyons.
Reminds him that the King's contribution does not begin till the army has entered the enemies' country.
Westm., 17 July. Signed.