Henry VIII,the Reign
By letters sent from my lord of Bath and Mr. Hannibal, dated Rome, 14 Sept., has been advertised of the Pope's death. It is the King's and Wolsey's mind that such a successor be elected as will fulfil the good and virtuous purpose for achieving the pacification of Christendom.
No potentates are more inclined to this than the King and the Emperor, both of whom have thought Wolsey most meet to aspire to that dignity, exhorting him to hearken to their counsel in that behalf, and proffering their assistance. As the Emperor is too far away, the lady Margaret has written to Wolsey in the Emperor's name, offering her services. The letters of cardinals De Medici, Sanctorum Quatuor and Campegius are favorable, and the King does not cease to insist that for urgent reasons Wolsey should consent to his and the Emperor's interposition in this behalf.
First, then they are to understand that they must omit no opportunity of securing the papacy for Wolsey; but as cardinal De Medici appears bent on securing it for himself, great dexterity will be needed to discover his inclinations, as his friendship is important.
They will therefore receive two commissions, the one couched in general terms, not naming any particular person, the other recommending Wolsey; also two letters to the cardinals, one in favour of Wolsey, the other in favour of De Medici; with other papers, which they shall use according to circumstances.
They are to visit De Medici, stating that they have the King's letters recommending him to the College; and by his answer they will note his intentions. If they find that Wolsey has no chance, they shall forbear to deliver the letters in his favor. If De Medici has so many enemies that he is not likely to succeed, they shall ascertain how he is inclined to Wolsey, observing that he and the Cardinal are of one mind in all matters.
They shall then proceed to practise with the Cardinals, declaring unto them Wolsey's great experience in the causes of Christendom, his favor with the Emperor, the King and other princes, his anxiety for Christendom, his liberality, the great promotions to be vacated by his election, his frank, pleasant and courteous inclinations, his freedom from all ties of family or party, and the hopes of a great expedition against the Infidel; as the King would in that case visit Rome, where Wolsey doubts not he might bring many other princes, and by his presence and authority settle disagreements among them.
Should he be elected, he will be at Rome within three months. They are to be liberal in their promises, as the King will make good whatever they undertake.
Hampton Court, 4 Oct.
Added in Wolsey's own hand: "My lord of Bath, the King hath willed me to write unto you that his grace hath a marvellous opinion of you; and ye knowing his mind as ye do, his highness doubteth not but this matter shall be by your policy set forth in such wise as that the same may come to the desired effect."
He is not to spare any reasonable offers, especially among the young men, who are generally the most needy.