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Letter #2334

Vienna, 1540-08-18

English register:

De Schepper describes his mission to Hungary [to King John Zápolya], which was entrusted to him by Emperor Charles and King Ferdinand. He travelled through deserted Vienna and then via Buda and Eger to Gyulafehérvár, where he obtained an audience with King John [Zápolya] with the help of the sympathetic Archbishop of Kalocsa and Bishop of Eger, Franjo Frankopan. Earlier, he received some unfriendly treatment from the castellan of Buda, zupan of Nógrád County István Ráskai. On the way back from Gyulafehérvár, De Schepper fell seriously ill. He was treated in Eger, remaining in the care of Frankopan, who has heard of Dantiscus. De Schepper sees a physical and intellectual similarity between Frankopan and Dantiscus. It is only upon his return to Vienna that De Schepper is replying to Dantiscus’ letter of 22 February [IDL 6839 (letter lost)], which he received back in Ghent, just before departing for Hungary.

He explains his reasons for neglecting the correspondence. He does not treat seriously Dantiscus’ excuses for not attending the Imperial Diet on religious issues. In fact he declares he is willing to face Dantiscus’ displeasure with the hardships of his journey as long as he can see him with his own eyes at this opportunity. He states his belief that religious problems should be resolved by people of Dantiscus’ stature and not by quarrelsome egotists guided solely by their own interests. He complains of a lack of good will and an aversion to change both among the princes who dispossessed the clergy and among the clergymen of the Roman Church themselves. He states that he lost hope that Dantiscus would come when (a month before his departure for Hungary) the Polish envoy [Jan Ocieski] appeared at the court. In his view, this envoy is a man familiar with and experienced in diplomacy, but there is little he can contribute to the matter of the church’s internal reform. De Schepper intended to go to Poland at the time but was discouraged by the news that the King [Sigismund I] was in Lithuania and that Dantiscus was absent from the court.

Earlier De Schepper outlined the situation in the Low Countries. Now he presents the consequences of those events [i.e. the Revolt of Ghent in 1539]. He describes in detail the harsh punishment suffered by the town and its residents. He is pleased that the Emperor put an end to the “stupid liberty” (stulta libertas) of the people of Ghent. Similar popular uprisings also occurred in the smaller towns in Flanders, as in Ninove, and the turmoil spread also eleswhere in the Netherlands, e.g. in Antwerp and Brussels — so the Emperor imposed fines on them.

De Schepper describes the circumstances of Georg Schenck van Tautenburg’s sudden death. Also deceased is the Count of Hoogstraten [Antoine I de Lalaing], extolled in songs but mourned much less than Schenck. The new governor of Friesland is Dantiscus’ friend Maximiliaan van Egmond. De Schepper briefly outlines his person and his current activity. He tried to make Godschalk [Ericksen] governor of Groningen but Queen Mary prefers to use Godschalk’s services in Hungary. There is no telling who will be the governor of Holland; the Lord of Beveren [Adolf of Burgundy] is vying for the office.

De Schepper showed Dantiscus’ letter to the Lord ofe Beveren and Maximiliaan van Egmond; as for other acquaintances and friends, namely Margrave [Antoon] van Bergen, Frédéric de Melun, the Lord of Heulle and van der Gracht, he told them all the news about Dantiscus and conveyed his greetings. De Schepper reproaches Dantiscus for the fact that despite claiming that he very much desires to see his friends, he refuses to undertake the hardships of travel. On the other hand, he understands that Dantiscus’ earlier activity has earned him some rest. He himself, despite approaching old age, cannot enjoy a peaceful life because he keeps being given new duties. He complains about the bad times and the personalities of rulers, comparing some of them to ancient tyrants: Herod, Nero and Domitian.

De Schepper reports fresh news about the death of King John [Zápolya] of Hungary and the Archbishop of Trier [Johann von Metzenhausen], and also about the marriages of the King of England [Henry VIII Tudor]. He mentions the bigamy of the Landgrave of Hesse [Philip].

De Schepper attributes the King of England’s depraved behaviour to the Lutherans’ instigation as they seek support against the Emperor. He laments the godlessness and licentiousness of his contemporaries. He has read and puts high value on Paraenesis [i.e. Carmen paraeneticum ad Constantem Alliopagum], published by Dantiscus and targeted at precisely this kind of behaviour. He calls for prayer for the godless Christian rulers. He polemicises with the false accusations against King Ferdinand published in Germany. He fears that even worse slander could emerge in more distant lands – Spain, Italy or Sicily.

De Schepper once again mentions the marriage of [Diego] Gracián [de Alderete] to Dantiscus’ daughter Juana. He previously did so because Gracián asked him to, having shown him the letter he received from Dantiscus. He outlines Gracián’s motives. He underlines his integrity and other spiritual virtues. He is critical of Dantiscus’ doubts as to Isabel Delgada’s fidelity and therefore his paternity of Juana, especially since Juana looks very much like Dantiscus. De Schepper strongly denies that he had an affair with Isabel. He intercedes for Gracián. He does not know the details of his current situation at the Spanish court; he only knows that he used to be the secretary of the deceased Empress Isabella.

De Schepper denies the rumours concerning his alleged disagreement with the Archbishop of Lund [Johan Weze]. Meanwhile, Weze did have a wrangle with Mathias Held.

De Schepper reports that none of the distinguished officials are left at the Imperial Chancellery. Though the Archbishop of Palermo [Jean Carondelet] is still alive, he is deaf and half-blind. All matters related to Italy, Spain, France and Germany are being controlled with great effort by [Nicolas Perrenot] de Granvelle. De Schepper would like the effects of his efforts to be equally great.

De Schepper notes that, in Poland also, great men, after their death (of which Dantiscus informed him), have been replaced with lesser men, and the King [Sigismund I] can only rely on his own authority. He expresses fear as to whether the young king [Sigismund II Augustus], though extremely well educated and wealthy, will be able to handle future challenges. He raises the issue of the Turkish threat and notes the necessity of putting one’s life on the line in this fight.

De Schepper is horrified at the general tendency towards decline, expressed in a shortage of outstanding and at the same time experienced individuals, the impudence of youngsters, the growing wealth of private persons and the misery of public finance. There is no one who is able to take over public affairs or command of the troops. It is similar in Hungary, in Germany, in the Low Countries, in Italy and in Spain.

De Schepper appeals to Dantiscus to strive to mobilise the elite of the Kingdom of Poland against the threat. He informs him of King Ferdinand’s plan to send Wolfgang Prantner on a mission to the rulers of Poland to call upon them to refrain from unfair interventions on the Hungarian issue and to assure them that Ferdinand wants to keep the peace treaty concluded with the deceased King John [Zápolya] in force and to preserve the rights of his son [John Sigismund]. This means, however, that he expects his own rights to be respected, too. Prantner received similar instructions with regard to the Hungarian lords. Meanwhile, military preparations are underway in case the Turks try to meddle in the dispute over Hungary. It is also a known fact that some Hungarians are not against surrendering to Turkish rule. De Schepper conveys greetings from Prantner. The latter wanted to travel via Prussia but this proved impossible.

De Schepper consoles Dantiscus in his grief over his mother’s death, digressing on the futility of life and financial matters. He notes the inadequacy of his pay in view of the work he does and the effort he puts in, but does not complain about his lot, commending himself to divine mercy. He mentions with respect the views of Mercurino Gattinara regarding gifts from rulers.

He agrees with Dantiscus’ opinion of Philipp Melanchthon’s books on the dignity of the church and the duties of rulers. He is pleased with the news that Lutheranism is weakening in Prussia. He hopes not only the robes but also the spirit of the clergy is restored there. He underlines that the example has to come from the top.

De Schepper reports that he has been in Vienna for a month. He conveys greetings from Sigmund von Herberstein, with whom he enjoys spending time, and news of Count [Leonard] Nogarola, Jiři Žabka, Georg von Logschau, Wolfgang Haller, Miklos Oláh’s mission to Hungary, and of the second marriage of Wilhelm von Rogendorf’s son [Christoph].

De Schepper repeats news he received in a letter from his wife [Elisabeth Donche]: Marcus Laurinus is well. De Schepper’s sister-in-law Joanna [Donche] died in childbirth. Lieven [Algoet] has been appointed herald of the Emperor and is working at the Imperial Chancellery. Adolphus de Scornaco is content with his situation. Gemma [Frisius] is working as a physician in Louvain. Conrad Goclenius died of the plague. Rutgerus Rescius is still teaching and runs a printing house. Dantiscus’ Brussels host sold his house but is unable to collect the payment. De Schepper’s wife and children are well. The Archbishop of Lund [Johan Weze] has gone to Lübeck. Mathias Held has left the imperial court for good and has settled near Strasbourg.

Once Hieronim Łaski arrives from PolandDe Schepper will be able to return to Brussels, where he expects to meet the Emperor. Łaski is to go on a mission to the Sultan on King Ferdinand’s behalf. That notwithstanding, Ferdinand plans to enter Hungary before the Sultan seizes it.

De Schepper expects that after some preliminary discussion, religious matters will be the subject of the Imperial Diet, probably in the Emperor’s presence. The Emperor’s participation in the Diet is possible thanks to a 10-year truce with France that was concluded with De Schepper’s involvement. The Duchy of Milan is still a bone of contention.

De Schepper reports on King Ferdinand’s endowments for Hieronim Łaski in Slavonia and on the detailed route of Łaski’s planned mission to the Sultan. Additionally, King John [Zápolya] before his death sent Brother George [Utješenović] there, but the latter withdrew upon receiving news of his patron’s illness, sending István Werbőczy instead, who was later joined by János Eszéki, Bishop of Pecs. They have great gifts for the Sultan but dare not cross the Turkish border.

De Schepper sends news from England on why Thomas Cromwell was imprisoned and sentenced to death. He reports that Eustace Chapuys, whom Dantiscus knew from Granada and Burgos, and whom the Chancellor [Mercurino Gattinara] called Vulpecula, has been in England for 11 years as the Emperor’s envoy.

De Schepper returns to Turkish affairs: for some time rumours have circulated about the Sultan’s death. Barbarossa is hated in Constantinople by the other pashas for his constant drive for war. His defect as a military commander is that he is deaf. The truce with the Turks expires late in the month.

De Schepper conveys news from Spain: Ferrante Gonzaga is Viceroy of Sicily, and the Margrave of Villafranca [Pedro Alvarez de Toledo] is Viceroy of Naples. The Emperor granted Francisco de los Cobos the title of Duke of Sabiote. The former Bishop of Osma [Juan García de Loaysa y Mendoza] is now Archbishop of Seville, and Georg of Austria is Archbishop of Valencia. The son of [Nicolas Perrenot de] Granvelle, Antoine, an excellently educated man with perfect manners, has been appointed Bishop of Arras. Granvelle has eleven living children. Dantiscus’ former servant Petrus [Mirabilis de Monteregale] is currently in his service. Ever since Mathias Held left, Latin and German matters at the Imperial Chancellery have been handled by just one secretary: Johannes Obernburger.

De Schepper intends to spend the winter at home or at Queen Mary’s court, so he suggests that Dantiscus send his reply via Antwerp or Augsburg to the court in Flanders. He extends greetings to Dantiscus’ brothers and sisters. He apologises for his chaotic letter; he did not have time to rewrite it.

            received Graudenz (Grudziądz), 1540-10-05

Manuscript sources:
1fair copy in Latin, autograph, AAWO, AB, D.131, f. 3-12
2register with excerpt in Latin, Polish, 20th-century, B. PAU-PAN, 8243 (TK 5), a. 1540, f. 25r-26v
3register with excerpt in Latin, English, 20th-century, CBKUL, R.III, 31, No. 420, 2

Auxiliary sources:
1register in German, 20th-century, B. PAU-PAN, 8249 (TK 11), f. 251

1DE VOCHT 1961 No. DE, 417, p. 316, 326-30 (English register; excerpt)
2CEID 2/2 (Letter No. 73) p. 405-432 (in extenso; English register)
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