Dr. John Donne.

LETTER to Sir Robert Cotton, returning, with criticisms, a copy of the treatise of Jacobus Valdesius [Diego de Valdés] on the precedency of Spain over other nations, De dignitate regun regnorumque Hispaniæ, et Honoratiori loco eis seu eorum legatis a concilijs ac Romana sede iure debito, published at Granada, in 1602; Pyrford, [1602?]. Holograph. [Cotton MS. Cleopatra F. vii., f 293.]

I haue read Valdesius, whom yow sent me, with much delight, as well because the question is important as perplexd. He ys extremely full of autorities and citations, as almost euery Spaniard ys, and euery lawyer. But all hys arguments are from theyr merits of the Churche, Spaniard ys, and euery lawyer. But all hys arguments are from theyr merits of the Churche, which [will] not be allowd by all to be the competentest iudge of thys. That the Spaniards are forenamd in the Acts of Councells, and in autors recitinge them, ys wyld proofe, for euerywhere yow shall finde those relations to haue been donne supinely and promiscuously, because that matter was not controuerted at that tyme. In the first quarrell at Constance France was not a party. Nor by the conniuency of that Councell, which would not pronounce for us, nor the fury of the Basil, at least of the Castilian legat there, where we were dejected after long pretences (sayth Valdesius), ys Fraunce wounded at all. She and Spaine iustled first at Trent. And there, because the Emperiall legat was neuer askd by the French whether he were also legate for Spaine nor protested against, if he sat in that right, though yt appeard there was no other Spaniard legate there, therfore thys seems a possession of the place as Spaniard, not onely as Emperiall. And after the Emperors death, when it was questiond after exagitation of that priuiledge, he spake first by order and, that donne, left not the place to the French, but to all the world, and satt with the clarke. And in the end, this Councell, as the others also did, safe-guarded by decree the rights of all princes from any preiudice by any acte donne or omitted there. So, no Councell wyttnessinge any precedency in the French before nor any forfeyture beeinge on the Spaniards part here, and the Spaniard hauinge donne here the last acts ot precedency, sittinge first and speaking first as longe as he stayd, the matter seems at least Res integra on the Spaniards side, though yow shall scarse light upon any French man but considers ys [sc. yt] as Rem confectam. Not upon these councells, but upon the decision of Pius 4 for Charls 9 against Philip 2. But to that Valdesius says, it was not donne juridically, an appeal was put in. The case nor parties are not now the same, Spaine beeinge increasd by Portugall. And the Spanish legat at Rome then was by the kings expresse commandement remisse in yt, because Fraunce had solemly made hys protestacions there of departinge from the Romane churche, except yt were pronouncd for hym. But before or after these Valdesius meddles with no opposition, I thinke because he respects no other judge. Therfore he remembers not the decree of the Venetian state 1558; nor that at Vienna since, where hys party was so stronge, and yet the Emperor did no more but forbid intermeetings; nor that in Poland Monluc had yt after. Allmost all the French offer thys for the issue, that before 58 at Venice yt was neuer askd, and Valdesius maks the quarrell I know not how old, for hys words are mille sæculis. But before 58 I haue obserud one tyme of differinge, at Calais 1521, where the point was, whether yt then belongd to the Spanish, Charls beeinge then Elect Emperor and King of the Romans, for withowt that essentiall circumstance it seems no offer had been then made on that part. And though Valdesius profes liberality, to giue more then theyr autors aske (as indeed he ys often more submis then hys nation useth to bee in armes or argument, where they haue reasonable apparence of conquest), yet it is easy to remember hym of many such circumstanccs for the Frenche as he swells up for the Spanishe, as that Clement gaue 1OO days indulgence to any which prayd for the French king, and Innocent 4 added 10, which ys in Thomas Aquinas, and many tymes the French king hath gonne lateraliter with the Emperor. But there are such heaps of these on both sides as it wyll, I thinke, euer remaine perplexd; for since in Henry 2 of Fraunce hys tyme the pope would not iudge for hym, since Philip 2 could neuer procure yt in all Henry 3 hys brauery against Rome, nor in Henry 4 hys grouelinge to creepe into the churche, nor in such a succession of cosen Emperors, I know not when he should hope for yt. Sir, I haue both held your booke longer then I ment and held yow longer by thys letter now I send it backe. But yow that are a reall and free doer of benefits I presume are also an easy pardoner of vnmalicious faults.

Your affectionate frinde and seruant,



Addressed: To my honored frinde
Sir Robert Cotton