Rome: 1571, January-February

Pages 373-391

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.

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1571, January–February

Vat. Arch.
Misc. Arm. ii.
vol. 80.
(Polit. 79).
f. 106.
743. Information for procuring the despatch of an Apostolic Commission.
“James. Earl of Bothwell contracted marriage in facie ecclesiae with Janet Gordon, sister of the Earl of Hulthlei [Huntly], notwithstanding the impediment of the fourth and fourth degrees of consanguinity, dispensation (fn. 1) from the said impediment being lawfully granted by Apostolic authority, and afterwards they dwelt together in mutual affection as man and wife for the space of sixteen months, or thereabouts, immediately subsequent to the said marriage.
“During which marriage the said Earl, surrounded by a great number of friends and armed men, attacked his Sovereign Queen Mary, as, attended by her wonted small retinue of nobles and servants she was on her way from the town of Stirling, where she had been to see her son, the Prince of Scotland, seized her person, and brought her against her will as a captive to the Castle of Edinburgh, and likewise brought thither the Earl of Huntly, Chancellor of Scotland, and Lord Lithington [Lethington], the said Queen's secretary, and kept them there for some time; and thereafter he kept the said Queen in Edinburgh Castle until he had caused a process of a pretended divorce between him and his said consort, no account being taken of the said papal dispensation, to be carried through, and sentence to be pronounced thereon, with total disregard of law, equity and the wonted practice in such cases, and that in the briefest possible time without the least observance of the formalities required by the law in a case of such gravity.
“The said Earl also, pleading his own turpitude before certain pretended schismatical commissaries, caused a process and sentence of divorce founded on adultery committed by him with a woman of low degree to be carried through and published. And thereupon the said Earl compelled the said Queen to appear before a schismatic minister, to wit, the apostate Bishop of Orkney, and against her will, profusely weeping and protesting in well-founded fear and terror, to give her consent to the said pretended marriage with the said Earl. Wherefore the said process and sentence of divorce, and all that ensued thereof, and especially the said pretended marriage, and all that ensued thereof, are null and void ab initio, and ought to be of no legal effect.
“Wherefore the said Mary Queen of Scotland most humbly supplicates his Holiness that all the parties concerned, and principally the Queen herself and the said James, Earl [of Bothwell] and Janet, his wife, be cited to appear in person, or by their procurators in the Roman Court, where the cause ought to be tried, under threat of process in poenam contumaciae in their absence.
“And should it seem safer, let a commission in partibus issue to the Archbishop of St. Andrews, the Bishop of Aberdeen, the Dean of Glasgow, the Chancellor and Treasurer of Aberdeen, and each of them, or two jointly, that they may proceed in the said cause and safely and expeditiously pass sentence therein as the course of justice demands.”
[1570.] Latin.
Vat. Arch.
Misc. Arm. ii.
vol. 100.
(Polit. 99.)
f. 199.
744. Thomas Stucley's Proposal.
“That there be given him four well equipped ships and a foist and two barks and therewith 3,000 foot and 500 horse, which he will undertake to raise without for the present any payment on that account; and with that force he will go to Plymouth and burn and take the fleet of Aquines [Hawkins], and thence he will go to Ireland and make himself master of Waterford and Cork.
“He craves that there be allowed him as his helper and associate Maestro de Campo Julian [Romero].
“With the said succour he will reduce the realm of Ireland to the service and devotion of his Majesty, and defend it against all enemies: his Majesty, on receipt of advice that the design aforesaid is accomplished, to be under obligation to make good to him the pay of the horse and foot aforesaid from the day of their putting out from the port of Santander to the end of the time during which they shall be in his Majesty's service.”
[1571.] Spanish. Copy.
f. 192.
745. [Jerome Rusticucci. Cardinal Bishop of Sinigaglia] to [the Nuncio in Spain].
“Mr. Thomas Stuchle, an English gentleman, makes the following offer to the Pope and the Catholic King, to wit, that, being given the command of ships of war to the number of twelve, with 3,000 soldiers aboard, he will within a few weeks bring the whole of the island of Ireland into subjection to the King, as he holds the threads of an important conspiracy in that country, which will assure him a welcome and liberty to fortify himself in whichever of the best ports of the island he may choose. This affair, he thinks, had better be managed covertly and with dissimulation, it being given out that the ships were being equipped in Spain for the enterprise against Algiers, or else for the purpose of chasing pirates.
“The said Stuchle likewise makes this further offer to the Pope and the King, that if they be pleased to put him in command of two ships of war and two armed barks in one of the ports of Flanders, he will either himself go in person, or send his master pilot with them, to burn and sink all the galleons that the Queen of England has in the river Thames; and this enterprise he deems so certain of success that, for further assurance of the Pope and his Majesty, he is willing to surrender himself a prisoner to the Duke of Alba, that, if the enterprise fail, his life may be at the Duke's discretion; and if it succeed, as he makes no doubt it will, he craves of the Pope and his Majesty, that he be assured of maintenance and support for his own life and his son's.
“The two said proposals the Pope has left wholly and in all respects to the judgment of his Majesty; and therefore has bidden me to write to your Lordship, desiring you, on the arrival of the said Stuchle, to do your best endeavour to induce his Majesty to be pleased to put the latter proposal as to the ships to the proof by bidding the Duke of Alba to cause the two ships to be privily made ready, and also the two barks, and to use whatever expedient may seem best to him to cloak the affair until the result be known; and then it will be more to the purpose to consider the other proposal; and your Lordship will report what resolution has been arrived at.”
1571. [Rome.] Decipher. Italian.
Vat. Arch.
Pii V Epp.
ad Princ.
vol. 19.
ff. 297, 300
746. Pope Pius V to the Emperor Maximilian II.
“Dearest &c.
“That what your Majesty does you do of honest purpose and with sage counsel We doubt not, nor ought We to deem otherwise of any Christian and Catholic Prince, much less of your Majesty. But nevertheless that which by your letter of 28 September, which late indeed, no earlier than yesterday, We have received, you crave of Us, to wit, that We should revoke the sentence and excommunication last year promulgated by Us against Elizabeth, the pretended Queen of England, this is of such a kind that, albeit We are bound to give, and do give your Majesty thanks for your solicitude therein shown on our own and Christendom's account, yet, as long as the said pretended Queen shall persist in her separation, wrought by her own act, from the body of the Catholic Church and the communion of this Holy See, We seem to be unable in any wise to revoke the excommunication and sentence, which, at the instance of many good and Catholic men, We have pronounced against her. Touching which sentence We hardly see ground for so much anxiety on her part. For if she makes much account of our sentence and excommunication, why does she not return to the bosom of Holy Mother Church, from which she has departed? But if she deem the said sentence and excommunication of no moment, why is she so anxious in that regard? For as to her menaces and hatred to Usward, We are so far from dreading or seeking to avoid them that, if she could sate her spleen by shedding our blood, that would be more agreeable and acceptable to Us than the Pontificate itself, of which, since it was laid upon Us by Almighty God, We, although our merits ill accord therewith, bear the burden. The state of temporal affairs, however, which is the subject of your Majesty's no less tender than sagacious consideration, though entitled to weight with all the wise, yet ought not to count for so much with Us as to make Us tolerant of aught that may affront the eyes of the Divine Majesty or impair the majesty of this Holy See. For the rest, as to withholding from the press the sentence published against the said pretended Queen, your Majesty knows that what has already been done cannot be revoked and cancelled, and as to preventing further publication that is altogether beyond our power. If there are any other matters in which We shall be able to gratify your Majesty, We will never, so far as in Us lies, allow you to lack tokens of our fatherly regard.”
5 Jan., 1571. Rome. Latin. Draft and copy.
Arch. Partic. (fn. 2) 747. News Letter.
“It is understood that the Kings of Denmark and Sweden, the Duke of Saxony, the Queen of England and the Count Palatine have made a league whereby Denmark undertakes to occupy on the side of Flanders the arm of the sea called the Sound, and the Queen likewise to make a great display of naval force, and the Palatine to guard the passage of the Rhine. The Duke of Saxony is raising a large force, and has summoned all his chief captains to make haste to join him. The league is against Flanders; and they say that Count Chinter [sic Gunther] of Swarzemburgh (sic will be colonel of the Swedish and Danish forces. The Duke of Alba on the other side is raising troops wherever he can find them.”
27 Jan., 1571. Augsburg. Transmitted by Flaminio Galgano from Venice, under date 10 Feb., 1571. Italian. Copy.
Vat. Arch.
Urb. Lat.
1042. f. 18d.
748. News Letter.
… “The resumed negotiation for the accord with England goes steadily forward, and there is great hope that it will succeed.”
5 Feb., 1571. Antwerp. Italian. Copy.
Vat. Arch.
Nunt. di
vol. iv. f. 168d.
Borgh. I.
vol. 607.
ff. 327d–332d.
749. [John Baptista Castagna,] Archbishop of Rossano, Nuncio in Spain to [Michael Bonelli,] Cardinal Alessandrino.
“You may remember that many days since I wrote you that there was arrived here a gentleman named Thomas Stuckley, an Englishman, though resident and married in Ireland, where he says he has much property. He represents himself as sent by the Catholics of that realm of Ireland to crave of the King succour against the heretics and the so-called Queen Elizabeth. Upon his first arrival here he was brought upon a time by the Archbishop of Cashel, who was here, and was then his friend, to my house; and after the greetings of courtesy he told me openly that without the spirit, but with the behaviour of a heretic, he had been present with the rest at many of their impious and diabolical functions; which he did, however, but to save his life and goods and estate, and not of his own pleasure and predilection, for in that sense he was never a heretic. And afterward, touched by a better spirit, he repented and took to favouring the Catholics, and at much cost, inconvenience and peril had, at the instance of the Catholics here, come over to crave the said aid of the King; and so he craved of me absolution from all censures incurred by him, as to which he gave me a writing of the said Archbishop of Cashel, who thereupon affirmed the same thing, and exhorted me to give him succour. I told them that I could not gratify them, because I have not faculties for the purpose; with which answer he went away, nor have I seen him since. Nevertheless, I sent you the said writing to learn the Pope's mind thereon, which was sent me in writing, to wit, that his Holiness does not approve of the said absolution being given him. This answer I have communicated neither to him nor to any other; and although he knows that the said writing was sent, there has from that time to this been no further dealing or treating between us. It is but now that by a third party he has caused me to be apprised of all that which by his own account he has negotiated in this Court, of which for greater clearness he has given me a narrative in writing; and since then by a Spanish friar, a lettered and worthy man and his confessor, he has informed me, that having of the King the little hope that may be gathered from the said writing, he contemplates going to lay himself at his Holiness' feet, to crave of him his holy blessing, tell him the condition of that realm, and implore his counsel and aid, as it runs in the same writing; and as to this he asks my advice and entreats me to notify his Holiness, and learn his mind touching his going to Rome. I have not seen fit to advise him either to go or not to go, saying that, having no knowledge or certitude whatever as to this matter, and but little knowledge of the King's mind and of the bases on which to found my advice, I should have nothing to say that was not unsubstantial and illusory, but that he knows what his commission is, and the truth as to matters there, and what he has accomplished here, &c. And so he had better commend himself to God and take the course that seems best to him because I can only tell him that his Holiness is pastor and father of all, just, most inimical to heresies and innovations, but merciful to whoso truly repents, most loving to Catholics, and especially to those of that and other realms that are infected, and desirous to aid them as far as he may, and a Prince full of holy zeal and charity. As little have I seen fit to discover my mind, and accept the burden of writing and soliciting the Popes answer; but I have said that this is a matter of such a sort that I must needs think it over while he tarries in the port those forty days during which, he says in the writing, he has promised his Majesty to wait. But as I asked him how he can think to make bold to appear in his Holiness' presence after leading the life that is described in the minute sent me in regard to him by the Archbishop of Cashel, especially as he may suppose that the said minute has come to the knowledge of the Pope, he made answer that the truth is that at heart he was never a heretic; and that the said archbishop wrote in the minute much more than is the fact; and that he has repented of his errors, and desires to have the blessing of the Church; that if he were minded to be a heretic, there is no honour or profit that he would lack at home and among his people; and besides he has sent me another minute, the original of which, together with the narrative in writing aforesaid, will accompany this: in a word he evinces a desire to have either here, or from his Holiness in person, absolution, and not to be abandoned in this state, lest he be plunged into a sort of despair.
“This is all that has passed touching this matter so far; nevertheless I have deemed it my duty to send the said writings, and apprise his Holiness of all this, in order that, as it is wholly in his power to give or withhold the answer and advice that is craved, the Pope may consider whether it will be possible to make the affair yield some good result, either in the public interest or in regard of this man's salvation, and let me know whether I am to preclude all further parley, or to afford him some comfort. And the better to enable a decision to be come to, methinks I should advert to certain matters; to wit, that, though I cannot read his mind, his way of life here is, by what I can understand, such as denotes a true Catholic. As such he has been received with honour by the King, who spares no expense in entertaining him, as he says in the writing. He has negotiated and treated with his Majesty, and with his chief ministers; he is caressed and favoured by the Duchess of Feria, who is an Englishwoman, and a most Catholic and Christian lady, and likewise by the Duke her husband, both of whom have nothing more at heart than to see England brought back to the faith. It is likewise true that he has in the harbour a ship, in which he brought moneys to a very great amount, of which he has spent the greater part, and that he has a little boy, who, they say, is indeed his son. These matters, I say, are true; but as to what he says in the writing that he has negotiated with the King and his ministers, and other matters which he avers, I know nothing for certain. Truly I find it difficult to believe that they have so openly said that they are treating of peace with Elizabeth, for these people are not wont so to unbosom themselves with anyone; however, it may be so.
“As to the design upon that island, one must bear in mind that the Prince that should adventure it must reckon on making open war upon England, and how difficult an operation is that, is well known. So that, if the Catholic King should not find himself prepared to embark on this great and difficult enterprise against England, he will not be minded to declare himself that lady's enemy for the sake of Ireland, more especially since it is of little use to take it, if he cannot afterwards keep it.
“It is also known that the King of France would not relish this move against England, because the French deem that the design upon that country, and the deliverance of the Queen of Scotland are their proper work, and so it seems ill feeling would be engendered, which they are here eager to avoid.
“There are so many other matters on hand, the League, the aid to be given to Savoy, the affairs of Flanders, the suspicions of France, and so many occasions of spending money and employing men, that I do not believe that his Majesty is likely to engage in this design on England, for such in effect seems to be this gentleman's aim and object, though he speaks only of Ireland. This I say to let you know how little hope I have that all our labour will not be in vain, if this gentleman should have nothing else to bring back but letters of his Holiness, or, in whatever other way expressed, his exhortation to his Majesty.
“The hospitality which the King accords him is, in my judgment, merely for the purpose of discovering if that lady will make restitution of the moneys, ships and men that she detains, and if she will come to an accord with his Majesty; in which case he will discard him altogether; but should she remain as hostile as she is, or continue to do his Majesty wrong, then he thinks he might make use of him to do her a mischief, and bring her to her senses.
“The Archbishop of Cashel quitted the Court, he too, by what he told me, re infecta; and rather came to some sort of rupture with this gentleman. I know not the cause, but it is not surprising that ill will should arise between an Englishman and an Irishman, for it is instinctive between these two nations.”
5 Feb., 1571. Madrid. Italian. Copy.
Vat. Arch.
Misc. Arm. ii.
vol. 67. (Polit. 66.)
ff. 247 et seq.
vol. 100. (Polit. 99.)
ff. 184 et seq.
750. Narrative of Thomas Stucley's Negotiation.
“Mr. Stukle is an English nobleman of the blood royal of England. He has two provinces in the kingdom of Ireland, denominated the one Wexford, the other Catherlogh (Chatrilho) and Leinster, the said Leinster being a duchy, but he has not the title thereof. He is wedded to a lady, the sole heiress of the richest gentleman there has been for a great while in London, with whom he had all that wealth in dowry which he has devoted and devotes to the very great and exorbitant expenditure which he has incurred, and is still incurring, for the purpose of bringing to a successful termination the enterprise so long ago initiated for the salvation of so many souls and the service and augmentation of our holy Mother the Roman Catholic church, and the honour and glory of Christ our Saviour. The said lady bore him now nearly nine years ago a son named William.
“He has had dealings with the heretics, as likewise all the Catholics that are in that realm have done and do, but secretly he was in league with the Catholics, who are numerous in Ireland. And Elizabeth, who claims the prerogative, and at present occupies the place, of Queen of England, being apprised of this, and fearing that the said nobleman might raise all the island against her, bade the Viceroy keep his son under restraint, which he did for about two years, the father meanwhile privily conspiring with the Catholics aforesaid to rise and do all the mischief in their power to Elizabeth and the rest of the heretics. And the forces of the Catholics being by themselves inadequate, they resolved to have recourse to the King of Spain as the nearest Catholic potentate. And so the said nobleman, a year before he departed, sent one of his gentlemen upon a mission which embraced in substance all the plan of the Catholics, the understanding being that, if he did not answer in the course of eight or ten months, Stukle himself would go thither in person; and as they had no news of the gentleman at the end of six months, they sent, by way of precaution, another gentleman to this court of Spain, who likewise made no answer, being bent upon recounting all his negotiation by word of mouth; which he failed to accomplish because on his return he lurked in Flanders, not venturing to continue his journey any further, for fear of discovery. And in the meantime the poor Catholics were in many instances deprived by Elizabeth alike of goods and of life. Wherefore they resolved to be instant with the said nobleman that he should go in person to his Majesty, pursuant to the understanding between them; and so, giving out that his purpose was to go serve Elizabeth against the Catholics who at that time were in rebellion in England, he said that he would let Elizabeth, the Viceroy, and the rest that called him Papist and Catholic, know that it was not true, and that he would treat all Catholics as his chiefest foes; and upon this pretext he was suffered to quit the realm of Ireland, which he otherwise would not have been able to do. He caused a good ship to be equipped and provided with artillery, munitions and victuals for four months, and with pilots and mariners, and he put therein about 100,000 crowns. He tried to induce the Viceroy to restore him his son, saying that he meant to take him to Elizabeth; but it was by large bribes to his ministers that he got permission to take him away; whereupon he spread his sails to the wind, and instead of going to England he came hither to Spain, and put into the port of Vivero in Galicia; and, as soon as he had cast anchor, he sent two of his gentlemen to his Majesty, whom they found in Seville. They reported to his Majesty the said nobleman's arrival at the said port, and the cause of his coming, to wit, that on behalf of himself and the rest of the Catholics of Ireland he was come to supplicate his Majesty to have compassion on so many lives and souls that were being lost for lack of aid by any Christian Prince; and that if he would, he could at very little cost reclaim that kingdom to the Roman Catholic Church, to the obedience of which it was wont to be subject, and to which the good people, who were very numerous, wished to return, chiefly for the weal of their souls and the security of their lives and goods, which they were losing, to the signal infamy of Catholic Princes; and that if his Majesty would not aid them, he was resolved to go to the feet of his Holiness, and after entreating him of his wonted clemency to give him his most holy blessing, which he doubted not he should receive, then to entreat his Holiness for the love of Blessed Christ, to be pleased, at the cost of that trifling aid which he craved of him, to recover for the church that realm so great and goodly, with all its many thousands of men, its towns and cities, and for his Holiness himself perpetual glory.
“The King most graciously entertained and heard the said gentlemen, and afterward sent them back to their lord with his command that he should remain in Vivero, disembark his people, artillery, &c., and bring the ship ashore for her better preservation; and meanwhile, he said, he would return to Castile, where he would treat of this business; and in that place Vivero they caused him to tarry for six months or more without holding any communication with him whatever. It is supposed that in the meanwhile they wrote to Flanders to learn if it were true the report that he had given his Majesty; who would seem to have been satisfied, for he bade him to Court, and bade meet him at Valladolid an Aragonese gentleman of the order of St. James, Don Francisco Marles by name, his Majesty's taster, with orders at Valladolid, during the journey, and at the Court to lodge, and regale him free of charge, and keep him company, and cause him to be waited on, and to treat him with all manner of courtesy, as he has done for the last five months. Here in Madrid he was lodged in a palace apart, was received by his Majesty with every token of gracious regard, was and is well seen and caressed by all the Court; and having repeated the message which he was authorized to convey to his Majesty, he told him of the service that he had done him by the space of eleven years in the wars of Flanders in command of horse and foot, and the great desire which he had to serve our holy mother the Roman Catholic Church and his Majesty; that he had received the most holy body of our Saviour Christ, and at that moment had made a solemn vow to do his utmost in scathe of the property and life of Elizabeth and the rest of the heretics; that as soon as he should appear in the ports of the said island and realm, he would encounter no resistance whatever; and might occupy any of the ports at his option, and by consequence either of the two cities, named, respectively, Waterford and Cork, both of them great, populous and wealthy; and that he would soon have at his command an army of 25,000 or 30,000 foot.
“Howbeit he says that he must go thither with an army of 8 or 10,000 foot and 1,000 horse, and also with the title and sanction of his Holiness or of his Catholic Majesty, that the Catholics may not be ill at ease in their minds, as they would certainly be if he should go with another title, fearing lest he should be going to make himself King. And that his Majesty might know that the said Catholics would not fail, he had by way of hostages some sons of their chief men. And he offered to reclaim all the said island and realm to the devotion of the Roman Catholic Church in a very few days: and he would make forts of such strength at the mouths of those ports that the fleets of the two realms of England would not be able to force an entrance; and for pledge to his Majesty of his good faith he offered and gave him his son, a lad of excellent disposition and great promise. From the lords of the Council with whom he was bidden to negotiate, and from Secretary Saglia [Cayas], he had ever good words and full of encouragement, which have all proved delusive.
“Pending these transactions here a treaty of peace was in negotiation with Elizabeth, which, they say, they expect to conclude, though the said nobleman is positive that that heretic will keep none of her promises; it is only the dread that she entertains of the said nobleman's valour, which she well knows, that has induced her to talk of peace and make it, if indeed she purposes to make it. He was in hope that it was intended to give him the fleet that bore the Queen, which with the Walloons and 3 or 4,000 Spaniards would have done the business two months ago; it was not done, and so he was disappointed, and almost all the fleet is lost. In Ireland upon the report that an English army of 10,000 foot and 1,000 horse was marching against the said nobleman's State to seize it, a knight in the said nobleman's service and governor of his State, instead of shutting his forces up within the towns, sallied forth into the open country with 8,000 foot and 600 horse to encounter the English. Between the two armies there was a river; and thus they remained without doing anything for about two months, and then the English retreated.
“Meanwhile the nobleman received letters urging him to wait no longer; and therefore he became importunate here, whereupon he was answered that his Majesty deemed peace to be concluded, that for the time he could do no more, but that by and by he would not be found wanting, and so forth; and that the nobleman would be provided with some honourable occupation in the State of Milan. But this he refused, saying that he had not come hither save to solicit aid for those Catholics, and to do all the harm he could to the heretics. He was offered a good post in Flanders, which he likewise refused, because, besides that while he held it he would be unable to be of any service to the Christian Church, he was sure that Elizabeth would by dint of money procure his assassination within a fortnight. He was told that he would be included by name in the treaty of peace. He replied that he desired no peace with one who, he knew, would, if she could lay hands on him, peace or no peace, forthwith have him beheaded; and besides, he desired no peace with heretics, for so he had vowed with an oath when he received the most holy Body of Christ, as aforesaid: that had he been minded to be a heretic, he would have been the richest man in those countries, and none would have been more esteemed and caressed by Elizabeth than he. He was told that Elizabeth would pledge herself, &c.; and that if, nevertheless, she should fail to keep her pledge, the King would destroy her. Whereto he replied that even so, he would not return to life, nor would his Majesty, he believed, move, because, notwithstanding he has been robbed of so many thousands and hundreds of thousands of crowns, and so many of his Spanish vassals have been done to death, he has put up with it, and not only has exhibited no resentment whatever, but instead of taking vengeance is making peace, with a heretic; and that there would be the less disposition to move on his account that he is not a subject of his Majesty. He was instant that, as the King would not openly furnish him with aid, it should be given him privily, needing as he did but 2,500 or 3,000 foot, with whom he pledged himself to take one of those ports and the city without so much as laying hand on sword, and to defend it for three months against all the forces in the world, provided that when they saw and knew that he had so done, they should furnish him with succour within the said time, which would be feasible because the passage from Galicia to Ireland can be made in two days and two nights. This they promised to do, but afterwards changed their minds.
“Upon learning their decision the nobleman asked for leave to depart and take his son with him: as touching the son he was told that his Majesty had adopted him as his own, and as such he was minded to keep him; but the nobleman might go, raise such troops as he could on his own account, buy ships, take one of those ports and the city, and then forthwith send word hither, that they might send succour: they would pay his people that he keeps in Vivero according to their promise for twelve months at the rate of 1,500 crowns per month, and for running the posts of the Court to the port they would give him 2,000 crowns. When he informed them that for the equipment of other ships he had neither artillery, munitions nor victuals, and hoped that his Majesty would be pleased to give orders to provide him therewith, they said that they could not so much as give him succour, though he should possess himself of one of the ports and the city, as aforesaid: this in case peace should be made, of which matter they will be certified in less than forty days. He promised to tarry in Vivero for the forty days; and they promised him that, in case peace shall not be made, they will give him powerful aid; if on the other hand peace be made, he is to go and do the best he can. And on these terms he will depart for the port of Vivero in four or six days; he gladly consents to leave his son, lest, as some friends have hinted to him, it might happen that he would be constrained by force to part with him.
“He will await what it shall please God that his Majesty should communicate to him; and meanwhile he will push forward with the equipment of two ships, with which, and the few people he may be able to enlist he will set sail, even though he receive no aid of any kind, not so much as a few artillerymen and munitions, for I think they will give him none, that so many poor Catholics, who with such devotion are awaiting him, may know that he is not dead. He will attempt the capture of some English ship, or will do some other exploit just to keep his men in hope, which accomplished with God's help he designs to make for Rome to kiss the Pope's feet, and entreat him by the mercy that is characteristic of his Holiness to have especial regard to so great a number of Catholic Christians; for great indeed were the compassion, as his Holiness will then be able to learn more at large from the mouth of the said nobleman, on whose part the Nuncio is entreated to apprise his Holiness of the whole matter, and with all due humility to supplicate him to send the said gentleman his most holy blessing, by means of which he trusts to procure the aid of Blessed Christ. Then his Holiness will be pleased, for the great zeal for religion that reigns in his heart, to direct that a brief be sent to his Majesty, to the effect, that having learned that the said nobleman had approached his Majesty in regard to the said matter, he desires that he send him succour in an enterprise so pious and so christian, if so be that, with 2 or 3000 foot, he will seize and secure the principal port and city, and will defend them for the said term of three months, and during the said term, being succoured, will in a few days reduce that realm of Ireland to the devotion of our holy mother the Roman Catholic Church, to the great advantage and exceeding great glory of his Holiness, in whose name, for the purposes aforesaid, it is necessary that he present himself, and have with him some printed excommunications fulminated against the heretics of England. And the said nobleman will await in Vivero his Holiness' answer to the Nuncio, in order that, he may know what commands his Holiness may be pleased to give him. And, seeing that he will be at very great expense, it is with all humility craved that the said answer be given, if possible, within the forty days, even if it should be necessary to despatch a courier express to the Nuncio at the expense of the said nobleman.
“The King has made him an offer of a pension on honourable terms, but this he has refused, saying that he had rather not to take pay from one whom he does not serve; and he neither can nor will serve one who keeps at peace with the heretics, against whom, while he lives, he is minded to employ such poor powers as shall be granted him by his Divine Majesty, who, he trusts, will be ever his helper as also of all other faithful Christians. His Majesty, when he took leave, bade him farewell most graciously, saying that he had adopted his son as his own, and that the world shall know how he esteems the father by the regard which he will shew to the son, and having embraced him he was fain to dub him knight, and so he did.”
Feb., 1571. Italian. Copies.
Vat. Arch.
Misc. Arm. ii.
vol. 100.
(Polit. 99.)
f. 189.
751. Secretary Cayas to Sir Thomas de Stucley.
“Your last proposal having been laid before the King, he has bidden me to communicate to you his answer, which in sum and substance is as follows: That though his Majesty knows your spirit and zeal to be very good and of a very Catholic knight, yet for the present it is not expedient to undertake the affair of the ships, or any other sort of hostilities, until we learn the result of the negotiation for peace, as you have on divers occasions been informed: That as you are determined to go to Rome and Venice, you are quite at liberty to do so, for his Majesty is agreeable thereto, and will be happy to give you the needful passports and the licence for the two horses that you desire to take or send to Italy: That there be delivered to you here in aid of your expenses the 2,000 ducats which his Majesty has granted you, and that there go forthwith to Bivero a commissary, who will pay all that he shall find to be justly due on account of your ship and the pilots, mariners, and fighting men that you have kept there since the day you put in to Bivero; and so Alexander (fn. 3) may come hither, that the 2,000 ducats may be paid forthwith, so that all else will be completely settled there in the manner I describe; and so you will be able to depart without this burden on your mind: That Master William (fn. 4) will proceed forthwith to Alcalá, and there make his abode with Parsons (?), who will instruct him with as much care as if he were the son of the Duke of Feria.
“In the matter of the licence for the discharge of the ship that is in Bayonne, there has been no opportunity of doing what you craved, for which delay certain weighty causes are adducible; and so you must be satisfied with his Majesty's good will, for that you certainly have, and you depart much in his favour, which is the chief matter to be considered by a person of your quality; and as this is his Majesty's final decision, and admits of no reply, I have seen fit to apprise you thereof, that, having learned it, you may depart as soon as ever you please. God be gracious to you, &c.”
8 Feb., 1571. The Palace. [Madrid.] Spanish. Copy.
Vat. Arch.
Misc. Arm. ii.
vol. 100.
(Polit. 99.) f. 190.
752. Secretary Cayas to Sir Thomas de Stucley.
“My Lord the King continuing to manifest by deeds the good will that he has shown and bears to you, and taking into consideration that which you wrote in your last memorial, and that which in conformity therewith has been submitted to him by the Duke of Feria, has deemed it proper that, besides the 2,000 ducats in aid of expenses, there be granted to you, upon a liberal estimate of the amount payable on account of the ship, pilots, mariners and soldiers that are in Bivero, other 4,000 ducats (i.e. 6,000 ducats in all); and so you can send for them, for they will be paid forthwith by the Treasurer General, that your departure may not be delayed on that account; and as to the time his Majesty is well pleased that the payments on account of the said ship, pilots, mariners and soldiers that you brought from Ireland run from the day of your departure thence for Spain, to wit, the 4th of April last year; and that the Commissary of his Majesty, who is to go to Bivero, take with him an order to this effect, with which I doubt not you will be satisfied, seeing that it is very reasonable.
“His Majesty is also well pleased to grant you the licence so much desired by you for the discharge of the ship from London that is at Bayonne; and so Alexander can bring me a memorandum of the name of the ship, and the other particulars, for insertion in his Majesty's warrant, which will forthwith be despatched; and so you can depart betimes and as grateful as you may well be to so benign a king, who has ever evinced so much love and favour in his dealings with you.”
13 Feb., 1571. The Palace. [Madrid.] Spanish. Copy.
f. 200.
753. Sir Thomas de Stucley to [John Baptista Castagna, Archbishop of Rossano, Nuncio in Spain].
“I am about to depart, and in ill health and great straits and anxiety, whereby I am harassed enough, but by no adversity more than to know that I go with so little relief for my soul, unless this letter shall bring relief. God gave me my soul to the end that I should not lose it in any extremity of adverse fortune; and so I entreat your Most Reverend Lordship, seeing that you are a priest of Christ and Nuncio Apostolic, to obtain for me from his Holiness relief for my soul, that absolved from excommunication I may go among my brothers, sons of the holy Roman Catholic Church, and enjoy the blessings for soul and body in which the sons of the Spouse of Christ participate. Thereby your Lordship will do me a great favour and to God a great service by gaining a soul for Him. I will take care to send to you on this errand, seeing that it is a matter which so concerns me, before I embark, and I will requite your Lordship for it, praying our Lord to keep you safe and promote you to that estate and dignity in which you can serve Him best. I kiss your Most Reverend Lordship's hands.”
[1571, Madrid.] Spanish. Signed, Thomas de Stucley.
Vat. Arch.
Misc. Arm. ii.
vol. 67.
(Polit. 66.)
ff. 236–39.
754. Alessandro Fidel (pseud. ?) to Pope Pius V.
“Your Holiness will have learned from our master's letter (fn. 5) with what humility he craves your holy absolution of the sin that he committed in having commerce with the heretics of both kingdoms, and to what true effect he has proved his zeal for the service of God and your Holiness, in that, solely for this cause, he has quitted country, kinsfolk, friends and his own State, nay more, has hazarded his life and that of his only son, insomuch that your Holiness may with absolute certainty count upon him as a most faithful servant, upon whom, lay what burden you may, you need have no fear that he will fail to bear it as a good and most loyal Catholic to the service of God and your Holiness.
“And whereas time past shows that it is fraught with difficulty and extreme peril for the future to yield from time to time to the enemy, who desires nothing else to render feasible the expulsion of the Catholics from England and your Holiness' realm of Ireland, I mean Elizabeth of England, who at present is fully persuaded that the Catholic King will never do aught against her, and is the more assured thereof because she has learned that his Catholic Majesty has sent our master away to the war against the Turks with Don John of Austria (for while he was in Spain she was ever in dread lest his Catholic Majesty should afford him some aid, which, with his own valour, kept her in perpetual terror); nor of your Holiness has she any fear whatever, regarding you as at such a distance from those kingdoms that there is little or nothing that your Holiness can do to hurt her, in so much that, being completely assured, she has withdrawn the garrisons that she kept along the coast of England over against your Holiness' realm of Ireland, and likewise has withdrawn 6 or 7,000 English soldiers that she had sent to Ireland for fear of our master as aforesaid, leaving there only the ordinary garrison of no more than 1,000 soldiers, quartered in those cities that are on the seacoast and subject to her; so, if your Holiness be minded to reduce both your realms to your Holiness' true obedience and the Catholic faith, by God's grace and His holy aid you will give effect to what hereafter is said:—
“You will cause ten or twelve ships to be with all possible diligence equipped and excellently well armed, and have them brought to the port of Spezia, for there will be no lack of ships at Genoa and along that coast; and with the same diligence you will cause to be embarked upon the said ships 3,000 Italian soldiers, arquebusiers all; and with all possible secrecy your Holiness will cause our master to be recalled, and to embark upon the said ships, giving out that the ships and men are going to join the fleet of Don John of Austria, so that neither Elizabeth of England nor anyone else may have any suspicion of the enterprise: but the ships, as soon as they are on the high sea, will with all possible diligence make for the straits of Gibraltar, and thence straight to your Holiness' realm of Ireland, which passage with a favouring breeze they will make in twelve days; because that sea of Spain is navigated much more speedily in winter than in summer by reason that, whereas in the summer northerly winds prevail off the coast of Portugal and prevent progress, in the winter the contrary is the case; and as soon as our master shall have set foot on land and displayed his holy standard, he will have but to publish your Holiness' excommunication, and without bloodshed all the island will go over to your devotion, and the few English soldiers that are there will go over, if not all, at any rate the more part, to your service, for their chief captain is a Catholic; and the rest will deem themselves lucky to be able to escape to England; nor will they find it difficult, because the chief cities, as Cork and Waterford and Ross and Wexford, are all Catholic, and stand with folded hands waiting to see a captain of your Holiness and your most holy standard; and if the city of Dublin, where the Viceroy resides, should make or attempt to make any resistance, it will not be for many hours; for most of the citizens are Catholics, and will surrender it to our master: but I hold it for certain that England will acquiesce therein.
“And it will be much the better that this enterprise be of your doing and with Italian troops by reason that the ancestors of the Earl of Gildara [Kildare] descended from the Florentine house of the Giraldi, and the earl is not only a Catholic but is lord of a great number of vassals. His father was beheaded by Henry VIII; whereupon the son fled to Florence, where he resided for many a year, as also in the time of Pope Paul III here in Rome, where he was succoured with money and what else such a lord had need of, until good Queen Mary came to the throne, when he returned to England, and was reinstated by the Queen. And he has ever favoured the Italian nation, insomuch that your Holiness' soldiers will be better seen and welcomed than those of any other nation. And so if the favourable season be chosen, to wit, the winter, Elizabeth of England will not be able, however much she may desire, to afford succour, because her fleet is already in the river Thames in London, and were it ready in the said river, yet the distance is great; but in fact it is altogether dismantled, and were she minded to equip it, there is not time enough, as also there are many other hindrances. Meanwhile our master will build two forts, one in the port of the city of Waterford, the other in that of the city of Cork, in which places there is ready to hand all the apparatus for such a purpose since the time of Henry VIII, who gave much forethought thereto; and had he carried out the work, they would now have little to fear from any fleet, no matter how strong; so that, the forts being built, no fleet will be able to enter that kingdom save at the will of those that shall be in command of the fortress, more especially since the other ports of that region cannot be entered save by small craft, and they must await the tide or they would be stranded and in no little jeopardy; so that there will no longer be reason to apprehend any great force, or that they can do any damage of consequence.
“Our master with the forces of his vassals and others of your Holiness' realm of Ireland, leaving for greater security the soldiers and others that he will bring with him to guard the cities and fortresses, will with all possible diligence cross to England, which is reached in a very few hours from the neighbouring coast of Ireland; and will land in Cornwall, and will there make a fort and a levy en masse of the Catholics of that and the neighbouring provinces of Devonshire and Somersetshire, which three provinces are Catholic and most loyal subjects of your Holiness. At the same time he will get a footing in the Province of Galia, i.e. Wales, which is the stronghold of the Catholics and the ancient enemies of the English, and operating as abovesaid will draw together the Catholics of that province. He will do the like in the Province of Chester, where the people are still Catholics; and thus he will be master of these five Provinces, so contiguous one to another and to the coast of Ireland that in a very few hours one can cross from one side to the other; in which Provinces there will be three camps, and distributed between them 25 or 30,000 Irishmen, folk most warlike and able to bear any fatigue, whom our master will bring over upon this holy enterprise and at your Holiness' devotion; and they will on every occasion be of force sufficient to repulse any army that Elizabeth of England may oppose to them.
“Furthermore it will be necessary that on receipt of intelligence that our master has set foot on land your Holiness cause some succour to be forthwith given to the English Catholic nobles that are in Flanders, that they also may enter the country by way of Scotland, and with the aid afforded them by the Catholics of that kingdom invade the North of England in force; and that likewise the Duke of Alba give signs of mustering troops and ships, and also in Spain his Catholic Majesty make a show of great preparations; so that Elizabeth, finding herself assailed on so many sides at once as to know not whither to turn for very terror, and still less whom to trust, may be fain to betake her to the feet of your Holiness, there to receive the reward of the many outrages which she has done against the Catholic faith.
“It is necessary that all these operations and holy enterprises be made in the name of your Holiness and of no one else; otherwise they could not so readily be accomplished, for many reasons which for the present need not be assigned, and for this reason in particular; to wit, that if Catholics and heretics alike should think or see that a foreign prince was addressing himself to the conquest of one of those kingdoms, they would set about banding and confederating together to prevent such a thing, and would suspend their particular quarrels rather than suffer themselves to become the subjects of a foreign prince; but this difficulty will not arise if the operations be in the name of your Holiness, for the Catholics are most faithful, and all they desire is to see your most holy banners displayed, and to see and obey the captains that you will send them upon this most holy enterprise.
“And as to the subjects and vassals of our master's State, which he bought of Elizabeth of England with his own moneys, your Holiness will grant him a confirmation of his titles and the name of duke in his duchy, so that his subjects and others, marking this, may observe more respect and obedience towards him; which will be of the utmost importance to this holy enterprise, and the rest of the island will be more prompt to aid and succour your Holiness.
“In that your Holiness' realm of Ireland there are two earls, Catholics and most loyal to your Holiness. Our master humbly entreats your Holiness to grant him authority to create them dukes of their States. The said two Earls command very great forces and numerous vassals, and very great is their authority; and if your Holiness shall accord them this grace, they will have the best possible cause to serve God and your Holiness.
“Your Holiness may be assured that at my time of life I am prompted by no private interest, but solely by the desire to set forth the mere and pure truth touching so holy an enterprise for the service of God and your Holiness. And as perchance you may deem that I am an Englishman or an Irishman, and that love of country has induced me to slur some matter over unduly, I assure your Holiness that I am an Italian and a native of the city of Pesaro, a vassal of the Duke of Urbino. True it is, however, that for many and many a year I have served my master, and that I know his policy and procedure, which are solely directed to the service of God and your Holiness, otherwise I would not have served him; and I came to know both the one and the other kingdom, as well by sea as by land, during the long tract of time I spent in them, ever waiting for the grace of God, that after so many perils I might in this most holy enterprise, do most goodly and holy service to God and your Holiness; and by the space of twenty years I have served this my master, not for wage or other private reward, but solely to this end; and waiting till God should be pleased to inspire your Holiness to give effect to this most holy enterprise which is proposed to you, thereby at so little cost, compared with the greatness and extreme importance of the enterprise, to abase the greatest enemy you have and reclaim three realms to your most holy obedience; and this especially you should bear in mind that it will be accomplished with so little expenditure and effusion of blood.
“And I at your Holiness' command will lead fifty gentlemen, all near kinsmen of mine on the father's or the mother's side without any pay whatsoever, the sole reward which they will look for being the exertions they will make in the service of your Holiness under my master's leadership in this most holy enterprise; to which I most humbly pray God by His spirit to guide you, and to grant you long life and health and a most happy victory over all your enemies.
“As to the fertility of your said realm I suppose your Holiness has already full information. By reason of the good climate, and the kindliness and fertility of the soil, the country, if cultivated in the way practised here in Italy, would suffice to supply England, France and Spain with bread, and yet have enough for itself. Cattle, such as cows, oxen, sheep and goats abound: horses are there of a kind much better suited to war than those of the English, and in great number. There are most beautiful rivers affording excellent harbourage and abounding in fish, and especially in salmon; most beautiful woods whereby ships and galleys can be built in plenty: these fringe the principal rivers of Cork and Waterford and Wexford; and on any occasion the vessels could be built in large numbers.
“The mines of gold, silver, lead, tin and iron are of recent discovery: a mine of alum is of extraordinary richness.
“These mines are owned by Irish gentlemen who do no sort of obedience to Elizabeth, and will hear of no name but that of your Holiness, to whom they do all obedience and service, as our duty is much rather to your Holiness.” (fn. 6)
[Autumn,] 1571. Rome. Italian.
Vat. Arch.
Princ. e Titolat.
vol. xxxi.
f. 21.
755. Mary, Queen of Scotland to Pope Pius V.
“Most Blessed Father.—As to the man who will present this letter to your Holiness few words will suffice, seeing that he is well known to you. We send him in the first place in all devotion to kiss your Holiness' feet on Our behalf; and then to make known to you the present condition of Our affairs, and in particular how greatly We stand in need of your Holiness' benevolence, aid and fatherly favour. And so in all lowliness We crave of your Holiness that it may please you to accord this man, your liege and Ours, a considerate audience, and to trust him even as you would Ourself, and meanwhile to take Us and Ours under your protection.
“Farewell, Blessed Father, and may God preserve you long indeed in safety to guide public affairs.”
16 Feb., 1571. Cheefeild [Sheffield]. Italian. Autograph.
Ridolfi's credentials.
Vat. Lib.
Urb. Lat.
1042. f. 31.
756. News Letter.
… “The Duke of Medina Celi, it is said, was to have set out on the 3rd of last month at the latest on his journey for Flanders to assume the government of that country in place of the Duke of Alva: on his way he was to pass through France to visit the Most Christian King as representative of his own King.
“In this Court it is held that the dispute between Flanders and England is settled, and it is hoped that commerce will soon be re-established on its former footing.”
28 Feb., 1571. Prague. Italian. Copy.


  • 1. Cf. Hist. MSS. Comm., 2nd Rep., App. p. 177.
  • 2. Reference too imperfect for verification: so left by Mr. Bliss.
  • 3. Cf. pp. 386, 391 infra.
  • 4. Sir Thomas's son. Cf. p. 379 supra.
  • 5. Cf. pp. 353–54 supra.
  • 6. The writer of this letter is evidently the Alexander mentioned in the two letters of Secretary Cayas, pp. 385, 386 supra. He was Stucley's most trusted subordinate. The letter was probably written in the late summer or the early autumn of 1571, as it appears that it was subsequent to Stucley's departure from Spain to join Don John's fleet for the expedition that terminated in the battle of Lepanto, 7 Oct., 1571, and Stucley was still in Madrid on 8 July, 1571 (Cal. State Papers, Foreign, 1569–71, p. 488). It has seemed best, however, to insert this and the immediately preceding letter, which is also of uncertain date, in this place rather than to break the sequence of the Ridolfi correspondence.