Rome: 1568, July-December

Pages 281-291

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Vatican Archives, Volume 1, 1558-1571. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1916.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. All rights reserved.


1568, July–December

Vat. Arch.
Nunt. di Spagna,
vol. iv. f. 4.
Borgh. I.
vol. 606.
ff. 431d–432.
541. [John Baptista Castagna, Archbishop of Rossano,] Nuncio in Spain to [Michael Bonelli,] Cardinal Alessandrino.
… “The King's new ambassador resident, that is to be, in England has departed, taking with him instructions to do all that may be possible for the Archbishop of Armagh and Father David [Wolf, S.J.]. He has been here with me, and has told me on the part of his Majesty that he has likewise a commission to serve his Holiness as if he were his ambassador, and that in case of need his Holiness may write to him, or cause the ambassador in Rome, who has the ciphers, to write to him for greater security of communication. The said ambassador is Don Guerau Despes, a Catalan Knight of the Order of Calatrava: he is married, a lettered gentleman, and reputed a very good Christian and a prudent man. I have given him such advice as I deemed meet, and believe that he will be an instrument of good for religion.
“Mgr. di Ceneda, Nuncio in France, wrote me that the Queen of Scotland is in the hand of the Queen of England, and what an advantage it would be to religion if she were suffered to cross to France, to which end he was very instant with me to do my office with his Catholic Majesty to enlist his aid, saying that he has written thereof to the Pope, who will grant me a commission.
“Not being sure that time will permit of my writing an account of what I have done in the matter, I have resolved for more brevity to apprise his Holiness thereof by the enclosed copies of letters, the one written by me to the King and the other to the said nuncio. (fn. 1)
“It is bruited at Court that the gentleman that came from France has done his office with his Majesty in regard of the desired matrimonial alliance between the King of France and the Emperor: whether it be probable I know not for certain, but sure I am, that, should it be so, there can have been no other answer than in general terms, because I know that the King is awaiting letters and perhaps a courier from the Emperor to apprise him fully of his Imperial Majesty's intention in regard to this matter.
“I have no time to say more, but I will make good the defect by the next courier that arrives.”
4 July, 1568. Madrid. Italian. Copies.
Vat. Lib.
Urb. Lat.
1040. f. 543.
542. News Letter.
… “It is reported from England that the Queen of Scotland has arrived there, and is much caressed and magnificently entertained by the Queen, though kept a close prisoner.”
6 July, 1568. Antwerp. Italian. Copy.
di Spagna,
vol. vi. f. 162.
543. [Michael Bonelli,] Cardinal Alessandrino to [John Baptista Castagna,] Archbishop of Rossano, Nuncio in Spain.
“…[It will be necessary for you to repeat the office that you did awhile ago with his Majesty on behalf of the Archbishop of Armagh and Father David [Wolf, S.J.], who are kept in prison by the Queen of England], entreating his Majesty to instruct his ambassador in that island to crave grace of the Queen that they may at least be better treated than they are.”
[21 July,] 1568. Rome. Italian.
Vat. Arch.
di Spagna,
vol. iv.
ff. 8d–10
Borgh. I. vol. 606.
ff. 442d–446d.
544. [John Baptista Castagna, Archbishop of Rossano,] Nuncio in Spain to [Michael Bonelli,] Cardinal Alessandrino.
“It may be supposed that the Prince of Spain was sorely troubled in mind from the very beginning of his imprisonment; however, at last he waxed so frantic as to wear the appearance of one utterly demented, behaving in such a sort that it seemed as if, being precluded from doing away with himself by violent means, he was minded to practise such irregularities as thereby to compass his death. He began by refusing to eat anything, took off his clothes, and with nought but a taffeta robe upon him would stand almost unintermittently at an open window exposed to the draught; or he would pace barefoot about the room, the floor of which he had caused to be so flooded that it was always under water, and he would cool his bed twice or thrice nightly by means of a pan full of snow, which he would sometimes keep in bed all night long, drinking icy cold water upon an empty stomach, with other the like practices; which irregularities it was futile to forbid by reason of the incessant shrieks and yells which any attempt to prohibit them occasioned, so that none dared to thwart him, especially because, while he was at large, he had been prone to the same or hardly less grave irregularities.
“At length, however, these practices, aided by travail of spirit and lack of exercise, so told upon him as to waste his body in such sort that, even when he had a mind to eat, he could keep nought in his stomach, and little by little the habit of vomiting growing upon him and thereon supervening the flux, those that had charge of him began to grow anxious about his life, so that they sent for the confessor and the physician; but he, pursuing his mad course, would hearken to neither the one nor the other, refusing all treatment either of soul or of body, greatly to the distress of the King and the rest, who saw his malady ever gaining ground and his power of resistance abating. However, it pleased God so to enlighten his mind that not only did he prove himself to be recovered from his dementia, but of a sudden he gave sign of a complete change from his former condition; for whereas aforetime his discourse had seemed ever to be of matters frivolous and ill founded, he now began to talk gravely and like a man of sense; and of his own accord he asked for the confessor, and confessed with much devoutness, and though he took not the most holy sacrament because it could not be given him by reason of his continual vomiting, yet he adored it with great humility, and with much appearance of contrition; and though he suffered his body to be treated, that he might not be guilty of his own death, yet he evinced such disdain of the things of this world, and such desire for heavenly things, that it seemed that God had verily reserved the fulness of all grace for this moment. And herein it is notable that the very same day that this change was observed he asked how many days they were from the vigil of St. James, and being answered ‘four days’: ‘Courage!’ quoth he, ‘that is the duration of my miseries and your labours.’ And thenceforth with so much devoutness and constancy did he bear himself that it seemed as if the more his malady waxed and his strength waned, the more his spirit mended, until the night before the vigil of St. James, when he asked what o'clock it was, and was told that it was about midnight; and all the while he ceased not to adore a crucifix that he held in his hand, and to commend himself to God and to ask pardon of his sins; and after a while he again asked what o'clock it was, and was told that it was past midnight; and then he said, ‘Now is the time,’ and caused a blessed candle to be placed in his hand, and turning to the confessor, whom he had never suffered to leave him, said, ‘Help me, Father,’; and muttering a few words, which could not well be understood, albeit those that were around him took him to say, ‘Deus propitius esto mihi peccatori!’ and beating his breast as well as his failing strength permitted, little by little, life withdrawing as it were from member after member, with great calmness and composure he expired. This was, as I have said, betwixt the night of the 23rd and the morning of the 24th July. Before he died there had been brought and laid upon his bed the habit of St. Francis, and also a cowl of St. Dominic, in which dress he had with much earnestness asked to be buried; and so it was done.
“He had sent to the King craving his forgiveness of his offences and his blessing, and with much loving kindness commending to him his servants.
“The King neither visited him nor suffered the Queen or the Princess to see him, perchance deeming that, since the case was already known to be desperate, such visits might rather be productive of mutual agitation than helpful to him in any respect; and I think that at first he had no real belief in the malady, but took it to be feigned for the purpose of procuring his enlargement or discharge from prison.
“I understand that as a father the King has felt this death much, but as a Christian he bears it with that resignation with which we ought to receive the tribulations that God sends us. The common folk evince great grief, as do also some of the chief men and grandees of Spain who are not in the government and keep at home. All the ambassadors were invited to attend the funeral, which took place on the 24th, the corpse being borne all the way by the grandees of Spain, Dukes, Marquises, Counts and others that were at Court, and attended by the two Princes of Bohemia, the elder walking between his brother and the Cardinal President, after whom came the nuncio among the other ambassadors accredited to the King, to wit, those of the Emperor, France, Portugal and Venice. The Polish ambassador was not invited, perhaps because of the contest about precedency with Portugal. They were followed by all the Court and a great multitude of people all in mourning, and with a pomp meet for such a Prince, with which pomp the obsequies were celebrated on the following morning also, as they will continue to be celebrated for nine days.
“All this I have written that his Holiness may be fully apprised of the affair. It has not been possible as yet to see the King; as soon as ever it shall be so, I will do my office in the name of the Pope by virtue of the general commission and the presumption, nay, assurance of his Holiness' mind, pending instruction from him to pay some other compliment. I have not seen reason to despatch a courier specially for this advice, knowing as I do that his Majesty will despatch one, and with his own hand write, as I believe that by this same courier he will, to his Holiness an account of the occurrence, unburdening his heart to him as to a loving father. Matters of business are dealt with in the enclosed letters.”
27 July, 1568. Madrid. Italian. Copy.
Vat. Arch.
di Spagna,
vol. vi. f. 137.
545. [Michael Bonelli,] Cardinal Alessandrino to [John Baptista Castagna,] Archbishop of Rossano, Nuncio in Spain.
“… The Pope approves the commission which, you write, his Majesty's new ambassador for England has received; and if there shall be any need to communicate with him, it shall be done through the ambassador resident here.
“We have heard of the office done with you by Mgr. di Ceneda on behalf of the Queen of Scotland. It is to be supposed that the intention with which he acted in this case was good, and you likewise have done your office as was meet with his Majesty; but for the present I have no commission to give you in the name of his Holiness, as he is not as yet quite resolved in mind which of the two Queens may be the better.”
17 August, 1568. Rome. Italian.
Vat. Lib.
Urb. Lat.
1040. f. 572d.
546. News Letter.
… “By letters of the 17th from Paris, we learn that at that Court they had letters from Spain of the 28th July, reporting, besides the death of the Prince, the departure from that Court of a gentleman of the Order of Calatrava, Don Guerrau despes [de Spes] by name, for England, where he is to be ambassador …; also the departure from that Court of the English ambassador to return to his Queen.”
27 August, 1568. Lyon. Italian. Copy.
Public Record
Transcripts (Rome).
Gen. Ser.
portf. 70.
547. Feliciano [Capito,] Archbishop of Avignon to [Alexander,] Cardinal Farnese.
“That which was surmised as to the peace made by his Majesty with his heretic subjects, to wit, that it was but a truce, is now plainly verified, seeing that the heretics have again taken up arms throughout France, and deadly encounters occur in many places, and as a last desperate resource they are selling what is saleable of their goods. It is also said openly that the German heretics have made common cause with them and aid them with men and money; that the Queen of England is sending to the support of the Prince of Condé, who is now in Burgundy, 15,000 mercenaries; and that the roads are already broken between Paris and Leono [Lyon], in Dauphiné and Languedoc, so that the danger is manifestly greater than ever. And here there is gathered about us a multitude of heretical folk who say they are on the way to France. However, should they be unable to enter France, or should they be minded to attack Avignon and the Contado, we are in a position of great anxiety and apprehension, and pray God to help us. Cardinal Bourbon's secretary has recently been killed by the Huguenots on his way hither from Paris: it is believed that he was bringing back the original documents of the Privileges of this City, which had been sent to the Court for confirmation.
“His Majesty has sent one of his captains as governor to Orange, where the cavalry, by which the place was garrisoned, have been defeated; and it is thought that Orange will not receive the new governor; which would be a severe blow to this Contado, depending as it does in great measure upon Orange for its security. This news, should you think fit, you may communicate to his Holiness.
“To-day, being the last of August, I have received letters from the King, and his ordinance, that besides the arrears of tenths the French clergy are to pay 100,000 livres, to raise which their ecclesiastical benefices will be sold; and we shall have to bear our part of the burden as well in Provence as in Languedoc. I fail not to do the best I may as well in spiritual matters as also for the defences of our castles and other temporal affairs; but I say of a sooth the turmoils and toils that I have to cope with are such that methinks I am come in ultimis diebus. Nor shall I fail from time to time to let you know how we fare, and so I conclude, with all due reverence.”
31 August, 1568. Avignon. Italian.
Vat. Lib.
Urb. Lat.
ff. 585d–586.
548. News Letter.
“We have letters from the Court to the effect that the Prince of Condé has sent the quondam Cardinal Satiglione [Châtillon] to the Queen of England with his two sons to offer her them as hostages, if she will give them aid…
“Also that the English ambassador had communicated to the King his Queen's dissatisfaction that people of her religion should be so ill-treated, but that the King assured him that he would explain the causes that occasioned it.
“Also that for all that there were not wanting people on both sides who were in favour of negotiating a fresh accord between his Majesty and the said Prince [of Condé].”
14 September, 1568. Lyon. Italian. Copy.
f. 581.
549. News Letter.
“When of late the English ambassador, in the name of his Queen, communicated to the King and his Council her intercession on behalf of the people of her religion that were daily being slain, which being ignored she would be compelled to aid them, the Cardinal of Bourbon, as one of tho said Council, demanded of the said ambassador a statement in writing to the said effect; whereat the ambassador evinced offence, saying that as ambassador he ought to be believed on his bare word. Nevertheless he gave it all in writing, in answer to which his Most Christian Majesty sent word to the said Queen, that if she should make war, he was ready to answer her; and many will have it that the said writing has also been sent to the Duke of Alva, and that his Excellency has since given the Queen to understand that in the event of her making war upon France, he would also make war upon her; wherefore it seems that the Queen has since sent someone on her behalf to France to assure the King that she is minded to be his good friend and neighbour, and that what she said at first was said to please the Prince of Condé, and in the belief that it would redound to the universal benefit of the kingdom, in which there would be no more need to kill so many people.”
21 and 25 September, 1568. Paris and Lyon. Italian. Copy.
Vat. Lib.
Urb. Lat.
1040. f. 581d.
550. News Letter.
“Since the quondam Cardinal Sciatiglion [Châtillon] went to England his Majesty has confiscated all his estate, spiritual as well as temporal, and divided it into three parts, giving one to the Cardinal of Bourbon, another to M. de Perron, and distributing the third among some others.’
25 September, 1568. Lyon. Italian. Copy.
f. 588.(bis)d.
551. News Letter.
… “By letters from Paris of the 5th inst. we learn that they had intelligence from England that the Queen of Scotland had made an attempt to escape to France in the garb of a man, but was discovered and detained by the Earl of Norfolk, and that of late M. de la Ternita died.”
9 Oct., 1568. Lyon. Italian. Copy.
ibid. f. 585d. 552. News Letter.
“We understand that three colonels in the service of the King of France, to wit, the Marquis Philibert of Baden, the Count Rhinegrave, and the Count of Barbi were busy collecting 3,000 reiters for service in France, where they expected to arrive about Martinmas.
“Also that the Count Palatine Wolf[g]ang was raising troops in Condé's name, but in a dilatory fashion, till he should receive an assurance on the part of the Queen of England.”
16 Oct., 1568. Antwerp. Italian. Copy.
ff. 592–592d.
553. News Letter.
“By letters from Spain we learn that the Queen of England had forbidden the quondam Cardinal Sciatiglion [Châtillon] to incite any of her subjects to move in Condé's service, being apprehensive that if the Huguenot party in her realm should move, so also would the Catholics, kindling a civil war that would not be readily extinguished.”
25 Oct., 1568. Turin. Italian. Copy.
Vat. Lib.
Urb. Lat.
ff. 593d–594
554. News Letter.
… “By letters from London of the 12th inst. it is reported that the quondam Cardinal Sciatiglion [Châtillon], and M. d'Arles, and other captains in the service of the Prince of Condé were soliciting help from the Queen, who, it seems, was making ready some ships and enlisting a great many soldiers, but had not as yet declared herself wholly determined to aid them.”
28 Oct., 1568. Paris. Italian. Copy.
Vat. Arch.
Nunt. di
vol. iv.
ff. 36d–37.
Borgh I. vol.
606. f. 515.
555. [John Baptista Castagna, Archbishop of Rossano,] Nuncio in Spain to [Michael Bonelli,] Cardinal Alessandrino.
… “I also told the King that I had seen that protest which the Queen of England had caused to be made by an envoy that she sent to France; and that if that Queen had some rivalry in state affairs, or some particular cause of quarrel, with the King of France, I should not make bold to say aught thereof to his Majesty; but seeing that the quarrel is about religion, and that that lady protests her intention to defend her own and attack our faith and religion, and to defend the Huguenots against the Catholics, I deemed it expedient and necessary that the Catholics should rally to resist, nay, rather to chastise, such temerity. And this especially concerned his Majesty, since he both makes more profession and has more power as defender of the faith than any other Prince, especially since, as I knew, he has such influence with that Queen that if he did but shew himself affronted, and constrained to oppose her if she should make this an occasion of hostilities against France, I believed it would suffice. This I said to his Majesty because the matter is public, although I knew that the French ambassador, whom it chiefly concerns, had done his office. He answered that he had already written to his ambassador in England to do hi.s office in that matter with spirit, and should any fresh intelligence come to hand, he would cause the offices to be renewed with yet more vigour; but he intimated that he had no fear of that protest being more than a piece of bravado intended solely to gratify the Huguenots. Nay, he said that he had intelligence from France that that ambassador, like the perverse heretic that he was, had exceeded his mandate in that ambassage, and acted with an energy contrary to his Queen's intent.”
29 Oct., 1568. Madrid. Italian. Copy.
Vat. Lib.
Urb. Lat.
1040. f. 612d.
556. News Letter.
“There is arrived here a Frenchman with two ships of war, giving himself out as Admiral of the French Navy, and having in tow eleven vessels belonging to Flemish Catholic merchants which he has lately taken.
“The Queen has sent out seven ships of war with abundance of munitions, which are believed to be for the service of the Prince of Condé.
“The Queen of Scotland's affairs make some progress, and the commissioners are still here.”
15 Nov., 1568. London. Italian. Copy.
Vat. Lib.
Urb. Lat. 1040.
ff. 603d–604.
557. News Letter.
…“The Queen of England has armed four ships, which are now at sea, and it is said that four others will soon put out, for what purpose is not known. It was said that she had some communication with Calais, but steps have been taken to preclude this, so that she has no more hope. It is also said that she has sent succour of divers kinds to La Rochelle, where the pest has has been so grievous that the inhabitants have been compelled to quit the town, and keep guard outside by land and sea. Some say that the Queen has declared in favour of the Huguenots, and has given them 200,000 crowns, but this is not known for certain.
“At Bordeaux many English ships, that were there to take on board wines and other merchandise, are arrested, by way of reprisals, it is said, for those that were of late brought from France to England by the Admiral's men, laden with divers goods.”
20 Nov., 1568. Antwerp. Italian. Copy.
Vat. Lib.
Barb. Lat.
4698 (li. 73).
f. 187.
558. The Queen of Scotland to Pope Pius V.
“Blessed Father, I kiss thy most holy feet. Having been informed that my rebellious subjects, and their fautors who foster them in their countries, have by their intrigues and stratagems wrought to such purpose that it has been reported to my lord and good brother the King of Spain, that I am not steadfast in the Catholic religion, I, albeit of late I wrote to your Holiness, devoutly kissing your feet and craving your favour, do now most humbly supplicate you to account me a most devout and obedient daughter of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, and to give no credence to the reports that may well have reached, or may reach, your ears, by reason of the false calumnies published by the said rebels and others of the same sect, to wit, that I have changed my religion so as to forfeit the favour of your Holiness and the other Catholic Princes. This I have so sore at heart that I could not but write afresh to your Holiness to make you my plaint of the wrong and injustice that they do me. Most humbly I beseech you to write in my favour to the Christian Princes, your devout and obedient sons, exhorting them to interpose on my behalf the credit and authority which they have with the Queen of England, in whose power I am, and to crave of her that she suffer me to go forth of her land, which, upon the faith of the promises that she gave me, I entered to crave her succour against my rebellious subjects; and that if she still be minded to keep me prisoner, yet at any rate she allow me the exercise of my religion, which has been denied me since I came into this kingdom. Meanwhile, I would have you to know the craft which my enemies have used to colour these calumnies to my disadvantage, contriving to introduce an English minister into the place where I am strictly guarded, who would sometimes say some prayers in the vulgar tongue; and I, not being at liberty or permitted the use of another religion, did not refuse to hearken to him, thinking to do no wrong. In which, or in any other matter, if I have erred, most Holy Father, I crave your Holiness' mercy, entreating you to pardon and absolve me, and to rest assured that I have never had other will than ever to live a most devoted and obedient daughter of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, purposing therein to live and die; and in obedience to your counsels and precepts I promise to do such reparation and penance that all the Catholic Princes, and in the first place your Holiness, as the monarch of the world, shall have occasion to be satisfied and content with me.
“Mean while I shall devoutly kiss your Holiness' feet, praying God long to preserve you for the benefit of His holy Church.”
30 Nov., 1568. Bourthon [Bolton] Castle. Italian. Copy. (fn. 2)
Vat. Arch.
Arm. xliv.
vol. 3. f. 195.
559. Memorial as to the Letter or Brief which the Pope commands to be written to the Bishop of Glasgow at the instance of the Spanish Ambassador.
“The Pope is pleased to order that a letter or brief be written to the Bishop of Glasgow, ambassador resident of the Queen of Scotland at the Court of France, thanking him for the good offices done by him with the said Queen, by word of mouth and by letters, encouraging and exhorting her to remain steadfast in religion, and, no matter what persecution, toil, or travail may betide her, never to abandon it, but rather to persevere therein with her hitherto unfailing constancy. His Holiness also desires that the said bishop be exhorted afresh and incited to persevere in this office with the said Queen, and that he be apprised that it meets with the Pope's approval, and renders it incumbent upon him not to forget the said bishop.”
[1568.] Spanish.
The Brief:
ibid. f. 194. 560. To [James Beaton, Arch-]Bishop of Glasgow, Ambassador of the Queen of Scotland in France.
“So many and weighty are the testimonies which his Holiness and We have received as well to your devotion to the Apostolic See and eminent zeal for the Catholic religion, as also to the offices, far indeed from being few or infrequent, which by word and writing you have done, in order to keep the Queen of Scotland, whose ambassador at the Court of the Most Christian King of France you are, steadfast in the observance of the Catholic religion and devotion to this Holy See, that his Holiness, who recognises that he is beholden to all who have done eminent service in the maintenance of the Catholic faith, would have Us thank you by letter for your piety to God and signal zeal for His Church. For indeed among the many and most weighty cares with which this burden of Apostolic servitude afflicts him there is none that so vexes his spirit as the dread which he sometimes cannot but feel lest the Queen, though he doubts not that she is well affected towards himself and the Holy See, may yet, orthodox religion being so shaken and her own calamities so great, be compelled (which God avert!) to abate somewhat of her wonted constancy in veneration of this Holy See. Wherefore the more wholeheated is his embrace and the more extreme his love of you, who in a time of such need have undertaken those offices dictated alike by your episcopal charge, which calls you to a share in Apostolic anxieties, and by loving regard for the Queen whom you serve; and albeit he, who of his own accord has with such care, zeal, diligence and piety performed so noble and splendid a function, would seem to need no exhortation or incitement to persevere therein, yet his Holiness, in the discharge of his official duty, would have Us, run though you do, yet withhold not the spur of exhortation. And so after thanking you in his Holiness' name for those offices which you have hitherto done, We beg of you that, if to the diligence you have hitherto practised, if to your past offices, if lastly to that most vehement zeal which, in this very matter of which We have spoken, you have manifested to such effect and at a time when it was so sorely needed, aught may yet be added, you neglect no means that you may deem expedient and necessary daily yet further to confirm and quicken the soul of the Queen in the practice of the observances of Catholic piety; for besides that God Almighty, whose eyes are upon the just, and who accords to good intentions aid and recompense, will requite your virtue and labours, the Pope also, as beseems the place in which the Lord has set him, will, when occasion serves, gladly afford you positive proof of the extreme gratitude with which he welcomes these offices of your sincere devotion to the Apostolic See.”
14 Dec, 1568. Rome. Italian. Draft.


  • 1. I.e., the letters of the 24th and 27th June, pp. 279, 280, supra.
  • 2. Printed in Labanoff, Lettres de Marie Stuart, vol. vii. pp. 16–18.