Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/522

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


intelligent master, whether he quite approved of them himself or not, Henry VIII might hunt and take his pleasure; bui/ there was no department of the State's business which he failed to look into or which he did not fully command.

In September, 1515, Francis I won the battle of Marignano, to the confusion of the Pope, and the Spaniards, and the Swiss. Nor was the; news more acceptable to Henry, who read the letters presented to him by the French ambassador with ill-concealed mortification. He had no reasonable cause, however, for a rupture with France, and Wolsey and Suffolk were eager to assure the ambassador that nothing of the kind was in contemplation. But not only had he just (October 19) made a new treaty (though a defensive one only) with Ferdinand of Aragon, but he had also been listening with interest to a secretary of Maximilian Sforza, Duke of Milan, who urged him to league with the Swiss for the expulsion of the French from Italy. And Wolsey had already despatched his very able secretary, Richard Pace, on a secret mission to hire Swiss mercenaries for this purpose, throwing out a hint that their efforts were likely to be seconded by another English invasion of France. Unluckily, even before Pace had set out, not only had the Swiss been decisively defeated at Marignano, but Milan had opened its gates to the victors, and the Duke, taken prisoner, had resigned his duchy for a French pension. But the plan was not dropped. The Emperor conferred the title of Duke of Milan on Francis Sforza, brother of Maximilian, and it was arranged that the Swiss were to serve the Emperor and to be paid by England.

But a further change very soon took place in the situation. In January, 1516, Ferdinand of Aragon died, and the young Prince Charles was in Flanders proclaimed King of Castile. It was desirable -and became more and more so as time went on-that he should leave the Netherlands for his new dominions, but there were many difficulties to compose. His Council leaned to France, and the Holy League had not much prospect of survival without Spain. England, however, clung to her former policy, and, as it seemed at first, with every prospect of success. The French were driven into Milan, and it was thought that they could not keep the city against the Emperor, who had come down from Trent and joined the Swiss with a view to attacking them. But, when almost at the gates of the city on Easter Monday, March 24, he suddenly changed his mind, refused to advance further, and presently withdrew once more across the Adda towards Germany, alleging the most frivolous excuses to Pace and the English ambassador, Wingfield. Whether he was discontented at not having received English money, or had actually received French money, is uncertain. The Swiss would have gone on without him; but their leaders fell out among themselves, and the whole enterprise was ruined. Still, by Wolsey's policy, the Swiss were kept in pay, and the Emperor was prevented for a time from coming to an understanding with France.