Henry VIII, the Reign
Letters & Papers: 1536 Volume 10
601. Chapuys to Charles V.
Having three days ago received letters from the Queen Regent in Flanders, addressed to this King, in reply to those he wrote to her for the delivery of two rebels and fugitives of this realm, I sent to Cromwell to know when I should present them; who made answer that I should be welcome to him at all times; nevertheless if it suited me better to deliver them to Cromwell instead, I might do so. And immediately after the said reply, Cromwell sent to me again yesterday morning direct to say that if I agreed he would relieve me of the trouble and come to me, as he thought he was in reason bound to do. But I thought I must not abuse such great courtesy, seeing that I had to present the same letters; and I thought it better to address myself to him rather than to the King, both to avoid giving colour to what the King had lately intimated to the French ambassador, viz., that some courier had come whom I kept in secret, and that you had dispatched him expressly to solicit aid in money, and also because Cromwell, being, as he professes, very much inclined to the preservation of amity between your Majesty and the King, not only does continually good service in reporting what he sees conducive thereto, but also adds of himself according to the exigence of affairs. Further, I thought it would be good to find out what was at the bottom of his repeatedly expressed desire to talk with me.
Accordingly I went yesterday after dinner to Cromwell, who was very well satisfied with the said Queen's letters, and replied five or six times, with great fervour, that it was a good beginning for the matter of the preservation of the amity of which we had so often talked, to which the King was more inclined than ever, and likewise those of his Council; and that it had been frequently proposed for a long time past to send some good embassy to your Majesty, but that the King alone had always been opposed to it until he had received some answer to what he told me during the Christmas holidays, and which Cromwell had repeated to me since. And Cromwell assured me, on his life and honor, that the King had never treated anything in France, Germany, or elsewhere, to the prejudice of the friendship he has with your Majesty; and that lately again, having been asked by two persons sent hither by the duke of Gueldres to make a similar league with the said Duke to what the French had made, the King had replied that as both parties were at peace there was no occasion for a league, and if there were, he must presuppose the reservation of ancient friendships, especially those he had with your Majesty. And with this answer the said personages of Gueldres returned without having achieved more. Cromwell has confirmed to me the statement that his master and the king of Scots are to meet at York, and that perhaps they might afterwards come hither in company. I think the king of Scots agreed to this interview in the hope of persuading the King to give him the Princess, but being informed of the conclusion of the marriage made by his ambassadors with the lady of Vendôme, of which he knew nothing when he despatched the ambassador who came hither to arrange the interview, I suspect there will be some change.
There lately came to dine with me the young marquis, the widowed countess of Kildare, lord Montagu, and other gentlemen; when lord Montagu, after many complaints of the disorder of affairs here, told me that the Concubine and Cromwell were on bad terms, and that some new marriage for the King was spoken of; which agrees with what was written to me from France that Henry was soliciting in marriage the daughter of France, so as to confirm their mutual intelligence and test how matters went. I told Cromwell that I had for some time forborne to visit him that he might not incur suspicion of his mistress for the talk he had previously held with me, well remembering that he had previously told me she would like to see his head cut off. This I could not forget for the love I bore him; and I could not but wish him a more gracious mistress, and one more grateful for the inestimable services he had done the King, and that he must beware of enraging her, else he must never expect perfect reconciliation; in which case I hoped he would see to it better than did the Cardinal, as I had great belief in his dexterity and prudence; and if it was true, what I had heard, that the King was treating for a new marriage, it would be the way to avoid much evil, and be very much for the advantage of his master, who had been hitherto disappointed of male issue, and who knows quite well, whatever they may say or preach, that this marriage will never be held as lawful, for several reasons which he might sufficiently understand; and that although a more lawful marriage should follow, and male issue from it would be to the prejudice of the Princess, yet the affection I bore to the honour and tranquillity of the King and kingdom, and towards him particularly, made me desire another mistress, not for hatred that I bore to this one, who had never done me any harm.
Cromwell appeared to take all this in good part, and said that it was only now that he had known the frailty of human affairs, especially of those of the Court, of which he had before his eyes several examples that might be called domestic, and he always laid his account that if fate fell upon him as upon his predecessors he would arm himself with patience, and leave the rest to God; and that it was quite true, as I said, that he must rely upon God's help not to fall into mischief. He then began to defend himself, saying he had never been cause of this marriage, although, seeing the King determined upon it, he had smoothed the way, and that notwithstanding that the King was still inclined to pay attention to ladies, yet he believed he would henceforth live honorably and chastely, continuing in his marriage. This he said so coldly as to make me suspect the contrary, especially as he said so, not knowing what countenance to put on.
He leaned against the window in which we were, putting his hand before his mouth to avoid smiling or to conceal it (ou pour lencouurir), saying afterwards that the French might be assured of one thing, that if the King his master were to take another wife, he would not seek for her among them. He then said that when an answer came from your Majesty upon the subject of our communication we should discuss everything and do some good work. At last, when I was going to leave, he said to me that although I had formerly refused a present of a horse he wished to give me, that now I could not do so without suspicion of ill-will, and he offered me one that the earl of Sussex had presented to him the day before; and for all I could say to excuse myself, I was obliged to accept it
I think that those here are not content with the appointment made by the Lubeckers with the duke of Holstein; for, happening to talk of the Lubeckers with Cromwell, he said they were false villains and canaille; and that, notwithstanding the said appointment, and that the Duke called himself king of Denmark, the King, writing lately to him for the release of certain ships, would not call him King, saying he knew there was another King alive with daughters, who might pretend to the kingdom. Hereupon Cromwell began to complain of the detention in Flanders of Dr. Adam, of whom I lately wrote, and a servant of this King, who came from Lubeck and Denmark, and begged I would write again for their deliverance. This I could not refuse to do; nevertheless, as I have before stated, it seems to me that unless your Majesty is fully informed, or the said doctor has been well examined and confessed, he ought not to be released. He is a "tres fin galant," who has been the cause of many evils, as I doubt not you are well advised.
The King and Council are busy setting officers for the provision and exaction of the revenues of the churches which are to be suppressed; which, it is said, will be in number above 300, and are expected to bring in a revenue of 120,000 ducats. The silver plate, chalices, and reliquaries, the church ornaments, bells, lead from the roofs, cattle, and furniture belonging to them, which will come to the King, will be of inestimable amount. All these lords are intent on having farms of the goods of the said churches, and already the dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk are largely provided with them. I am told that although Cromwell promoted in the first instance the demolition of the said churches, that nevertheless, seeing the dangers that might arise from it, he was anxious to prevent them, for which reason the King had been somewhat angry with him.
The prelates here are daily in communication in the house of the archbishop of Canterbury for the determination of certain articles and for the reform of ecclesiastical ceremonies; and, as I understand, they do not admit (nadvertent, qu. nadmectent ?) purgatory, the use of chrism "et autres jeusies" (?), the festivals of the saints and images, which is the way to spoil St. Thomas of Canterbury and other places of pilgrimage.
They are also occupied in replying to a writing made by Luther and his fellows, which the bishop [of Hereford], ambassador of this King, being with them, has sent, whereby Luther and his adherents conclude that the first marriage was valid (tollèrable); and whether it were so or not, without doubt the Princess was legitimate. It is true the ambassador, to please his master, writes that although he thinks the said Luther and the others know the contrary of what he had written, yet they dare not say it for fear of your Majesty. At this instant the Marchioness has sent to me to say what Mr. Gelyot (qu. Elyot?) had already told me, viz., that the King being lately in this town, and the young lady, Mrs. Semel, whom he serves, at Greenwich, he sent her a purse full of sovereigns, and with it a letter, and that the young lady, after kissing the letter, returned it unopened to the messenger, and throwing herself on her knees before him, begged the said messenger that he would pray the King on her part to consider that she was a gentlewoman of good and honorable parents, without reproach, and that she had no greater riches in the world than her honor, which she would not injure for a thousand deaths, and that if he wished to make her some present in money she begged it might be when God enabled her to make some honorable match.
The said Marchioness has sent to me to say that by this the King's love and desire towards the said lady was wonderfully increased, and that he had said she had behaved most virtuously, and to show her that he only loved her honourably, he did not intend henceforth to speak with her except in presence of some of her kin; for which reason the King has caused Cromwell to remove from a chamber to which the King can go by certain galleries without being perceived, and has lodged there the eldest brother of the said lady with his wife, in order to bring thither the same young lady, who has been well taught for the most part by those intimate with the King, who hate the concubine, that she must by no means comply with the King's wishes except by way of marriage; in which she is quite firm.
She is also advised to tell the King boldly how his marriage is detested by the people, and none consider it lawful; and on the occasion when she shall bring forward the subject, there ought to be present none but titled persons, who will say the same if the King put them upon their oath of fealty. And the said Marchioness would like that I or some one else, on the part of your Majesty, should assist in the matter; and certainly it appears to me that if it succeed, it will be a great thing both for the security of the Princess and to remedy the heresies here, of which the Concubine is the cause and principal nurse, and also to pluck the King from such an abominable and more than incestuous marriage. The Princess would be very happy, even if she were excluded from her inheritance by male issue. I will consult with them again today, and on learning her opinion will consider the expedient to be taken, so that if no good be done, I may at least not do any harm. London, 1 April 1536.