Henry VIII,the Reign
29 July 1527
We have duly received your despatches of the 13 July, and at the same time the letter of the Queen our aunt, of which Francis Phillips was the bearer. He, in virtue of his credence, has told me in substance what we already knew by your letters, respecting the affairs of the said Queen. You may well imagine how sorry we were to hear of so scandalous a proceeding as the one in contemplation, one of such bad consequences, and from which so many evils are sure to originate, besides occurring at such a time and in so unfavorable a conjuncture. It is, however, our intention not to be in fault with the Queen our aunt, but, on the contrary, to do everything in our power on her behalf.
To this end, it seems to us, as a commencement of remedy to the impending evil, that the affair ought to be treated at first with all possible moderation, and by means of kind remonstrances. We have, accordingly, written a letter to the King in our own hand, begging that he will place full credit and reliance in whatever you may have to communicate to him on this affair; and we also send you a copy of the said letter of credence, that you may judge yourself of its contents.
You will inform the King how, through yourself, or in any other way you may deem more fitting and appropriate for the occasion, we have had cognizance of the actual state of things between his serenity the King and the Queen, his wife and our aunt. How, immediately after the receipt of such intelligence, we took up pen, and wrote to him the inclosed letter in our own hand, without communicating its import to any member of our Privy Council and others, or asking their advice upon it, as the matter is of such nature and importance.
You will further tell the King that, in order better to keep secret the contents of our letter to him, we have abstained from sending to him one of the gentlemen of our chamber, as we at first thought of doing; and that, foreseeing that this dispatch, as well as our private letter to him, must needs go by land, we have, with infinite trouble to ourselves, put the same in cipher, difficult and intricate as you know it to be.
That, knowing her great virtues, his good and righteous intentions, and the perfect love he has always borne towards us and our affairs, we cannot in any manner be persuaded to believe in so strange a determination on the part of his Serenity, and one which is calculated to astonish the whole world, were it to be carried into effect. In fact, we do not believe it possible, considering the good qualities of his Serenity and of the Queen his wife, the honourable peace in which they have lived together for such a number of years, as is notorious throughout the Christian world; the Queen herself being so good and virtuous, loving the King as she does, having always conducted herself towards him in the most irreproachable manner, and being of such high royal blood. To which we may add that, having so genteel a Princess for their daughter, it is not to be presumed that his Serenity the King would consent to have her and her mother dishonoured, a thing in itself so unreasonable that there is no example of it in ancient or modern history.
For even if it were right and allowable to say or think—which is by no means so—that the Pope could not dispense in this marriage, and even supposing the existence on that occasion of the motives alleged, or other causes and reasons still stronger of any kind whatsoever, of which there is none, to procure such a scandalous dissolution of the match, it would be a far better and more honorable proceeding to keep the matter secret, and work out its remedy, if necessary, though we again say that such motives and reasons do not and cannot exist.
Nor is it likely that such innovations proceed from his Serenity, but from persons who bear ill-will towards the Queen and ourselves, and who care not what evils and disasters may spring therefrom. For, as we have no doubt that you will be able to show and prove to the King, the present affair is one in which several princes of Christendom are deeply concerned, and which in future times may prove to be the cause of great troubles and dissensions among them; some maintaining that the Princess his daughter, after the King's death, is legitimate and true heir to his crown; whilst others may say that the king of Scotland, by his mother's right, ought to succeed to the throne of England; besides which, other political questions connected with the above might give rise in England to everlasting feuds and partialities.
You are, therefore, to entreat his Serenity, in our name, well to consider and ponder the whole matter, and to call his especial attention to the three following points:—1st, to take in good part what we tell him in a friendly way, and to believe that in thus addressing him we have only said what we knew to be most advantageous to himself and to us. 2nd, that he may be pleased, for the honor and service of God, to put an end and remedy to so scandalous an affair. 3rd, that he may also be pleased to treat it with such secrecy and reserve as is needed in a case of this sort, and which concerns alike him and ourselves, a precaution and warning which the King, in his great prudence and discretion, is sure to duly appreciate. And you are also to promise, in our name, that whatever measures may be required to ensure the said secrecy we are ready to take, out of perfect love for him, and for the said Queen our aunt, and for the Princess their daughter, and for the whole kingdom of England.
A duplicate of this dispatch shall be forwarded to you by sea, and at the same time Francis Phillips shall return to England. He shall, moreover, be the bearer of a letter of ours to the Queen our aunt, to whom you may, as soon as possible, communicate the contents of this dispatch in the manner that you think most proper for her tranquillity and satisfaction, giving her at the same time such advice as may console her in her present affliction.
Besides the above-mentioned provisions, and in the event of the Queen not deriving any benefit in her case from the appellation, we have presently written a letter to our viceroy of Naples, informing him at full of the quality and circumstances of the case, and commanding him to obtain secretly, and in the best manner possible, from his Holiness, a letter or brief wherein, in the mildest terms and with licit exhortations, he may persuade the King and his ministers to put a stop to the evils which must necessarily arise out of so scandalous a business. And we ourselves have also written to his Holiness, through another channel, respecting this ugly affair, entreating him to revoke the legatine power conferred on the cardinal of England, or, if he should deem it more advisable, to command by sentence that neither the said Cardinal nor any other ecclesiastic of England, of whatever rank or dignity he may be, take cognizance of the said affair, he (the Cardinal) being suspected of ill-will towards the Queen our aunt; but, on the contrary, the case to be brought forward at Rome before his Holiness and the Sacred College of Cardinals, there to be tried and judged by them.
A duplicate of his Holiness's resolution in this matter shall be addressed to you, by way of Germany, with all possible secrecy; and you may show it to the King as emanating from the Pope proprio motu, and by reason of his pastoral dignity.
For your better information in this affair we send this by the general of the Order of St. Francis, with whom, and with our Viceroy at Naples, you may correspond by means of your own cipher, to which they both have a key.
True it is that we would very much prefer, were it possible, to attend to the remedy of this present evil secretly, rather than bring it to such scandalous evidence; and yet, if no other means be left, we cannot but do everything in our power to assist the Queen our aunt.
We have likewise written to the Cardinal the enclosed in our own hand, which you can forward to him if required, or else keep it by you until his return (from France). If you decide upon having it sent to him, let it be secretly, and through some person deserving all your confidence.
Valladolid, 29 July 1527.