Rome: 1571, March-April

Pages 391-406

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.


1571, March–April

Vat. Arch.
Borgh. IV.
vol. 260.
757. — to Michael Bonelli, Cardinal Alessandrino.
… “An ambassador from the Queen of England having arrived here to congratulate his Majesty, it so fell out that to the door of his abode there was affixed the Pope's sentence of excommunication against that Queen; and there have not been wanting those that to render me odious to their Majesties have endeavoured to disseminate the belief that this was done by the Nuncio by my order, for that I was but just come from Rome at his Holiness' command, and for no other purpose than to offend the King's Majesty and censure his conduct; but neither their Majesties nor any of the courtiers have given ear to them, for they deem me to be sent by the Pope upon another errand than that of a bill-poster.
“All the briefs that I had for the Cardinals here I have presented to them with my own hand; and they have warmly placed themselves at my disposal in all that I may require of them for the service of his Holiness.”
6 March, 1571. Paris. Italian. Copy.
Vat. Lib.
Urb. Lat.
1042. f. 34d.
758. News Letter.
… “They write from France by letters of the 25th of last month that there had arrived at that Court an ambassador from England to treat, it was said, of the marriage of that Queen with M. d'Anjou; but this was not believed: also that the Huguenots of La Rochelle were getting an armada ready for sea, which is to be under the command of M. Depiles [de Pilles].”
10 March, 1571. Rome. Italian. Copy.
f. 35.
759. News Letter.
“The Queen of England has sent an ambassador to the King of France, to treat, it is said, of marriage with M. d'Anjou. … There is intelligence from Flanders that Count Louis of Nassau, brother of the Prince of Orange, who was in France, has taken his departure and is in Burgundy; that the Huguenot Corsairs had taken many vessels, and that the Commissaries had crossed to England to settle the question trade, of which there is great hope.”
16 March, 1571. Rome. Italian. Copy.
f. 37d.
760. News Letter.
… “From London we have tidings of the occurrence within the last few days of a mighty earthquake in that island in the Province of the Walloons [sic Wales], which has caused great devastation and changed the position of a mountain, and brought most grievous ruin upon many towns and a large tract of country and fruitbearing trees: also that the Queen was still averse to restoring the ships, nay that detention of other ships that put into her ports was of daily occurrence.”
19 March, 1571. Brussels. Italian. Copy.
Vat. Arch.
S. Angel.
Arm. xiv.
Caps. iii. No. 4.
761. [Thomas Howard,] Duke of Norfolk to Pope Pius V.
“Pondering the deplorable plight of the Christian world and especially of this island of Britain, in which misery and anxiety prevail on all hands by reason of the enfeeblement of religion and by consequence of the civil power, I, by the advice of the nobles of this realm, send to your Holiness this envoy, Robert Ridolfi, a worthy man well known to your Holiness, with instructions to confer with your Holiness touching matters that concern the common weal, whom I most humbly beseech you to trust and speed upon his errand, and send back to us with the prompt despatch which the circumstances and the importance of the business require; and that the whole enterprise may be brought to the desired end, I most faithfully promise not only to do all my endeavour so far as my powers may extend, but also to hazard my life for the glory of God. The other matters which the envoy will fully and perspicuously discuss with your Holiness, as also whatever concerns me, I beg leave to submit to the pious sagacity of your Holiness to decide. Our Lord Jesus Christ preserve you to utmost length of days to govern His church.”
20 March, 1571. London. Latin. Copy.
Vat. Arch.
misc. Arm. ii.
vol. 84.
(Polit. 83.) ff.
13–18, 92–103.
Nunt. di
Spagna, vol. ii.
ff. 484 et seq.
Cast. S. Angel.
Arm. xiv.
Caps. iii. No. 5.
762. The Same to [Robert Ridolfi].
“By reason of the trust which the Queen of Scotland and I, and other nobles of this realm, our friends, repose in you, we by common consent have resolved to commit to your diligence and integrity the negotiation of a treaty of the utmost importance, as it concerns the weal not only of our proper persons but of the greater part of the inhabitants of both these realms, and therewithal of the whole of Christendom. For which purpose we have resolved to despatch you with all possible celerity to Rome, for an audience of the Pope, and thence to Spain to the Catholic King, that you may describe to these two Princes the woeful plight in which all this island now stands, and our particular affliction, as more in detail you have been here by word of mouth apprised, and the sure means that exist for safeguarding us from disaster, and Christendom at large from many untoward consequences. To this end you have received particular instruction from the Queen of Scotland as to what you are to propose on her part. And in like manner I, in regard of all my interest, and in the name of the more part of the nobles of this realm, of whose names you receive herewith a list complete in all particulars, will now explain our intention, praying God to grant you good speed and safe conduct both going and returning.
“In particular you will explain, as well to the Pope as to the Catholic King, the miserable plight in which this island is, and the apparent likelihood of its growing yet worse, if God in His mercy apply not the remedy by inclining the hearts of the Pope and the Catholic King to have regard to the afflictions and cruel usage to which the Queen of Scotland and myself, as also all the Catholics of these kingdoms are subjected, and to give us their aid in the just enterprise, which has the promise of assured success, if they would but grant the succour that is craved for the furtherance of the Queen of Scotland's title, the re-establishment of the Catholic religion, and the suppression of those that are of the opposite side, such as the Earls of Hertford and Huntington, and others that under divers pretexts devoid of substance aspire to succeed to this crown, and being Huguenots are favoured by the more part of those of the same religion, so that, whichever of them should succeed to the crown, nothing else could be anticipated but ever increasing misery, to the hurt not only of this island but of all Christendom, by reason of the intrigues which the said Huguenots now carry on throughout all the world.
“You will also explain to the Pope and the Catholic King how well disposed and ready to act are the Catholics, who preponderate in numbers and power in this realm, and what an opportunity is now presented of bringing all the island back to the Catholic faith, and of espousing and furthering the just title of the Queen of Scotland, by which means many, even of the Huguenots, who for divers reasons are hostile to the said Hertford and Huntington, will, though Huguenots, afford aid, being concerned rather with the question of succession than with that of religion. And as the Pope and the Catholic King may have so far been somewhat suspicious of me for not having declared myself, but rather having worn the appearance of a Huguenot, you will explain to them that this has not been due to any ill will towards the Holy See, but in order that, when in due time the occasion should present itself, such as that which now offers, I might be able to do such signal service to all this island and Christendom at large as the result will show, if those succours which are now sought should be afforded me; and of this you may certify the Pope and the Catholic King that I am not actuated so much by the desire to advance myself by marriage with the Queen of Scotland as by the hope of uniting all this island under a lawful Prince, and re-establishing the ancient laws and the true Christian and Catholic religion.
“And since many of the Huguenot faction follow and favour me in furtherance of the title of the Queen of Scotland, the Pope and the Catholic King should not marvel that I hesitate to declare myself to each of them. So you will kiss the Pope's feet in my name, and then on the part of all the Catholic nobles, who will hazard themselves in this enterprise along with me, of whom I give you a list; and on my particular behalf you will declare that, if by God's grace we should be able to carry this enterprise to the desired conclusion, I am content, and do now pledge myself ever to observe all that by the Pope and the Catholic King and the Queen of Scotland shall be ordained in this matter; and from many Catholics of this realm the Pope can satisfy himself how staunch I have ever been in their defence, and how my ministers, and those that have most of my confidence and friendship, and the preceptors of my sons are all Catholics; and for this cause I am content to hazard my life and all my power along with my friends. And furthermore I entreat the Pope that for this my word's sake he do his endeavour to incline the Catholic King to engage in this enterprise, sending to him an express messenger or a letter of such a kind as such an affair demands, in order that, if by reason of some other design his Majesty should take exception on this point, and, to procrastinate, should answer that it is for me first to declare myself fully, his Holiness may testify that the reasons alleged are satisfactory to him, and that at the proper time I shall not only not be adverse, but shall not fail to hazard myself in every way with the rest in furtherance of the Catholic religion and the just title of the Queen of Scotland; and that for the present he is for the said reasons content that I declare myself solely through you to him and his Majesty on the understanding that I do so more openly in due time, and that meanwhile it is necessary that, until the enterprise take effect, the secret for the said reasons be imparted to none other.
“As to your further discourse with the Catholic King, I desire that in the first place you give his Majesty ample assurance that I, together with these other nobles, have recourse to him in sincerity of mind, and in particular by reason of the great affection that I have ever borne him, bounden to him as I am as having heretofore been received into his service, and as having by his grace and favour obtained restitution of those well known honours and estates, for which I shall ever be grateful; and although it may, perchance, at times have seemed to his Majesty, that in the interest of the Queen of Scotland, or for other reasons, I have inclined to the side of France, I desire that he rest, as you will do your utmost that he shall rest, assured that my faith has never been pledged on that side, but that my natural inclination has ever been towards his Majesty's service, as I trust in God, that, as opportunities shall present themselves, better assurance may be forthcoming. And so I have recourse to him as my last refuge, beseeching his Majesty to lend me his aid in this enterprise of furthering the title of the Queen of Scotland and the Catholic religion, now that so fair an opportunity offers of healing not only this island, but perchance, as I have said, great part of Christendom, inasmuch as the pernicious intrigues and designs that are here hatched by those who surround the Queen of England, as well to establish in this island the succession in a King after their own heart as also to promote the religion of the Huguenots, are not bounded by the island, but embrace all the States of his Catholic Majesty and Germany and France, and, failing a speedy remedy, may propagate no little loss and mischief to his Majesty's said States, especially if the Queen of England and her ministers should be allowed to carry out their designed match with the Duke of Anjou, and unite this crown with that of France; for the prevention whereof, if his Majesty will aid me, I, with my friends in this kingdom, offer to oppose them by force and defeat them, as I have heretofore opposed them by negotiation.
“Further, you will give his Catholic Majesty to understand the confidence with which I and the more part of the nobles of this realm have recourse to him for aid, which prompts me to say that I shall take it as a favour if his Majesty, for the satisfaction, not merely of myself but also of the greater number of the people of this realm, consent that I go on endeavouring to conclude the match with the Queen of Scotland; and you will assure his Majesty that from me, with the approval of our principal nobles, he shall have confirmation of that confederation and league which has always subsisted between this crown of England and his States, and whatever besides can conveniently be granted; and moreover that account shall be taken and restitution made touching all offences and depredations and arrests, as has from time to time been done in the past, and was ever meant by me and the other chief lords of this realm to be done, and would in fact have been done to this day, but that the troubles which befell me and the Queen of Scotland prevented it; so that his Majesty may be assured that he will receive all due satisfaction.
“In furtherance of the said enterprise many of the nobles and people pledge themselves to take arms under my leadership, and to expose themselves to all peril of battle to compass the restoration of the Queen of Scotland and the Catholic religion. And albeit I expect much of my friends, nevertheless, considering that our forces are divided in several bands, and there is lack of many things necessary for such an enterprise, the mere willingness of the men not sufficing, you will supplicate his Majesty, that of his wonted benignity he deign, as soon as may be, to lend it his aid as well in money as in men, arms and munitions, to the numbers presently to be mentioned, and most of all by furnishing us with a person experienced in leading an army, whose descent upon the island will be secured by allowing him to fortify a place on the coast to provide safe quarters for his men and safe storage for his munitions and artillery. He will be joined by twenty thousand foot and three thousand horse, not to speak of those who will afterwards take the field on our side; and they will do so in great numbers, as we already have their word for it. As to the most convenient and safe place for the descent, I deem it to be the port of Harwich in Norfolk, where I, with many of the nobles resident in those parts, will promptly be on the spot in person with the said aid. But if it should be thought that the said descent had better be made at Portsmouth in Sussex, I shall be ready to intervene with the same forces at the said place, not doubting that I shall have such strength numerically and otherwise as to be able for some time to withstand the forces of the Queen of England, provided the enterprise be made secure by sea. You will supplicate his Holiness and his Majesty, in the name alike of myself as of all the rest, that this succour may consist of six thousand arquebusiers, and four thousand arquebuses to arm our men withal, and two thousand corslets and twenty-five pieces of field artillery, and the quantity of munitions required for the said artillery and arquebuses; besides which, if it can be done without occasioning the discovery of the enterprise, it would be necessary to bring oversea three thousand horse (reiters); and it would suffice to have them ready for transport after the six thousand arquebusiers had been landed in England, to enable us the better to assure our hold on the open country, particularly in case the enterprise should for some reason not have the speedy success that is hoped, but should meet with more opposition than is expected on the part of the Queen of England. And furthermore money is necessary for raising troops here, and paying auxiliaries. As to which arms, munitions and moneys, supposing the enterprise to succeed, as with the aid of God and his Catholic Majesty it is hoped and confidently believed it will, I am content and will promise (as likewise the Queen of Scotland and the rest) to make restitution and reimbursement of the moneys, and to remain for ever most bounden to his Holiness and his Majesty.
“You may also suggest that for the better security of the enterprise I and my friends are of opinion that, if the succour could be raised to ten thousand men in all, then besides the six thousand men who are to make the descent on England, it would be well to land two thousand in Ireland, and other two thousand in Scotland, where arrangements should be made to afford them aid and safe quarters in any emergency; which seems a very sure method of compelling the Queen of England to divide her forces into several bands, which she could not despatch in such strength but that ours, by the said plan, would, with the assistance they will receive, always have the advantage.
“You will also advert to the hope which the Queen of England daily holds out of consenting to restore the Queen of Scotland by treaty of composition, though, considering the methods hitherto used and the course on which she is bent, there is no hope that she will do so, for this, among other reasons, most of all, that she has embarked upon this new project of wedding the Duke of Anjou; which, if it should be suffered to come to pass, would be of very pernicious consequence, not only to this realm but perchance to all Christendom beside, seeing that the negotiation is managed and was initiated by the Huguenots of France, and is part of a great scheme. Accordingly, supposing the Queen of Scotland to be restored in Scotland, we are determined by every means in our power to further her title and the Catholic religion in this realm, and therefore the succour will be necessary; and if, by reason of the war with the Turk or other embarrassments, it should be inconvenient to his Holiness and his Catholic Majesty to lend us aid at so short notice, but it must be postponed for some little while, the negotiation shall, if possible, be held in suspense. And if, to commend the cause to more favourable regard, it should be deemed by the Pope and the Catholic King meet that I and other chief lords of this realm should withdraw to Flanders or Spain to await the opportune moment, the attention of the Queen of England being in the meantime occupied, and her fears excited, by my numerous followers and fautors, among the nobility and commonalty alike, who would be at my beck and call, I shall be content to betake me to his Majesty's States or wheresoever the Pope and his Majesty may bid me, on condition that they provide for the maintenance of my dignity and that of my friends. This also I premise in any case, that the Queen of Scotland has been, as I have said, restored in freedom in Scotland, for if she be not set at liberty, but remain in affliction as at present, it is not meet that I should quit the realm, lest I bring ruin upon the Queen of Scotland; rather, you will tell his Holiness and his Majesty, I am resolved, in conjunction with the forces of my friends, to hazard a battle; and essay to rescue her here by force, and at the same time to possess myself of the person of the Queen of England by way of pawn for that of the Queen of Scotland; whereof the result, by God's grace, shall be greatly to the advantage of all Christendom. Failing which, his Holiness and his Majesty will consider the untoward consequences that may be expected, the advantage resting with the Queen of England and her present counsellors and their pernicious designs, against which his Majesty's States can never be secure; but by reason of their intrigues it will always be necessary for his Majesty to keep a strong army in Flanders, unless he is minded to see that State by the subornations of the Queen of England rise again in revolt; whereas, if my enterprise meet with favour, and have the good success, which, if it be ordered as aforesaid, may confidently be anticipated, his Majesty will be in a position of complete security in the event of any insurrection in his said States, and in case of need may count on me and all the nobles my friends to aid him at his pleasure, as with all affection we pledge ourselves to do.
“You will therefore apprise the Pope and the Catholic King that it is our opinion that the enterprise should be put in execution with all speed before the summer is past, so that there may be no possibility of our designs being penetrated by the French or the Queen of England; and you will assure the said Princes upon our word that the French neither know nor shall know aught of this enterprise; and that there is nothing that will more surely rupture the negotiation for the marriage with the Duke of Anjou than putting the enterprise in execution as soon as may be, which I and all my friends are ready to do as soon as ever his Holiness and his Majesty shall bid us. And therefore you will entreat them on the part of all to be pleased with all diligence and secrecy to send you back hither fully apprised of all that they propose should be done, for in the meanwhile, until your return or the announcement by your letters of the intentions of his Holiness and his Majesty, the enterprise will be conducted in all respects with great secrecy; so I would have you hasten your journey as much as possible, that we lose not the advantage of the season.
“I give you in my name and the names of all the friends letters of credence to the Pope and the Catholic King and the Duke of Alva. Howbeit, if after consultation with the Bishop of Rose [Ross] you deem that they may bring you and us into some peril, as well in this realm as abroad, by reason of the rigour which, we know, is practised, and the suspicions that circulate, I am content that you leave them here in the hand of the Spanish ambassador, and entreat him on my part, as, if need be, I also will by writing, to be pleased to give you copies of them for each of the said Princes in his most secret cipher, and to write to them that he has the originals in his possession, and explain why you did not risk carrying them with you; for the effect of such letters of the ambassador will be the same as if you had the originals signed by us; and if in the meantime I shall discover a safe way of getting speech of the ambassador in person, and affording him confirmation of the contents of this instruction, I will do so, if I do not apprise him thereof by letter, so that he may write with the more earnestness to his Majesty, whose hand you will kiss with all due reverence in my name, assuring him as best you may of my desire to serve him and retain his favour. And on your journey you will present my greetings to the Duke of Alva, pledging me to do all that is in my power to gratify him, and informing him of our enterprise so far as you may deem it meet and find him well disposed, entreating him to favour this our just enterprise, and to furnish you with letters commendatory to his Holiness and his Catholic Majesty, and whatever the decision may be, to keep, as becomes a Prince of such great honour, this negotiation very secret, and to let us know the decision of the King his master as soon as possible. And with each of them, in view of contingencies, and likewise with his Holiness you will leave a copy of the cipher, that pending your absence we may communicate all that may be needful to one another; and when the enterprise has been brought to a successful issue, we shall not fail publicly by persons of quality duly to acknowledge the reverence and obligation that we owe to the Pope and the Catholic King.
“Furthermore, since the King of Portugal is still much incensed against the Queen of England, and I think that from him as a very Catholic Prince this enterprise will not lack favour, and we cannot communicate our purpose to his ambassador or give him letters of credence for you, the said ambassador not being in these parts, you are therefore to entreat his Holiness and his Catholic Majesty to be pleased, if they should deem it expedient, to furnish you with letters of credence and favour from them, in order that, having taken leave of the Catholic King and sent us word by express letter of his decision, you may then, being within easy reach of the said King of Portugal, betake you to his Majesty in our name, apprise him of our desire and promise him in our name, that, if he be pleased to unite with the Pope and the Catholic King in affording us succour, there shall be made complete restitution of arrested and detained goods and adjustment of claims that originated some time ago with our disapproval. And much to the purpose would it be that the said Prince should provide the desired succour of two thousand men for the descent upon Ireland and Scotland; for upon a sudden without suspicion he could embark them in his dominions and land them in Ireland before aught could here be known of the matter; and thereby the forces of the Queen of England would be greatly reduced and her fears greatly excited, and the rest of the enterprise could be carried out more safely as projected. Therefore, as to this matter you will confer with the Pope and the Catholic King, and adopt what they shall deem the best expedient.”
List of Friends, Foes and Neutrals.
The Duke of Norfolk. Baron Latimer.
The Marquis of Winchester. Baron Scopre [Scrope].
The Earl of Arundel. Baron Montegle.
The Earl of Oxford. Baron Sandes.
The Earl of Northumberland. Baron Vaux.
The Earl of Westmorland. Baron Windesor.
The Earl of Shrewsbury. Baron St. John.
The Earl of Derby. Baron Brugh.
The Earl of Worcester. Baron Mordant.
The Earl of Cumberland. Baron Paget.
The Earl of Pembroke. Baron Wharton.
The Earl of Southampton. Baron Riche.
Viscount Montacute. Baron Stafford.
Baron Howard. Baron Dacre.
Baron Abergavenny. Baron d'Arsi de Northe [D'Arcy of the North].
Baron Audeley.
Baron Morley. Baron Hastinge.
Baron Cobham. Baron Barcheley [Berkeley].
Baron Clynton. Baron Cromwell.
Baron Dudley. Baron Lumley.
Baron Ogle.
The Earl of Huntington. The Viscount of Herforde [Ferrers of Hereford].
The Earl of Bedford.
The Earl of Hertford. Baron Wentworth.
Baron Burley.
The Marquis of Northampton. Baron St. John of Bletso.
The Earl of Rutland. Baron Eure.
The Earl of Sussex (fn. 2) (fn. 1) Baron Northe.
The Earl of Barthe [Bath]. Baron d'Arsi of Cherchey [Chiche].
The Earl of Leicester. (fn. 2)
The Earl of Warwick. (fn. 2) Baron Willoughby. (fn. 2)
Viscount Byndon. Baron Chandoz. (fn. 2)
Baron Zouche. (fn. 2) Baron Buchorst [Buckhurst]. (fn. 2)
Baron Grai of Wilton. Baron Vindesdon [Hunsdon].
Baron Montjoy.
March, 1571. Decipher. Italian. Printed in Lettres de Marie Stuart, ed. Labanoff, iii. 236 et seq.
Vat. Arch.
Nunt. di
Sapgna, vol. ii.
ff. 523 et seq.
Misc. Arm.
ii. vol. 67.
(Polit. 66.)
ff. 254 et seq.
271 et seq.
763. Mary, Queen of Scotland to Robert Ridolfi: the Message he is to Deliver to the Pope, the Catholic King and the Duke of Alva.
“You are to set forth in the first place the miserable plight of the island [of Britain] and the apparent imminence of very cruel and tyrannical measures against the Catholics already so sorely afflicted, if God in His mercy and goodness apply not a speedy remedy by inclining the hearts of Christian Princes to embrace this their cause; since such hope as the said Catholics have of seeing religion restored and themselves delivered from captivity rests on no other foundation, humanly speaking, than the espousal and support by those Princes of my just title in these two realms; seeing that the Earls of Hertford and Huntington and others, who are possible pretenders to this crown of England, though the title of the one is remote and that of the other false and illegitimate, are all Protestants, and from them nothing could be expected but a continuation or rather an augmentation of the present miseries.
“You are to set forth in the next place the position in which I find myself, the evil entreatment which I undergo of my person, and other indignities and affronts to which I am subjected, the jeopardy in which I stand of my life, menaced as I am with poisoning and other violent deaths: likewise the peril in which meanwhile are the Catholics on my account: no sooner is anyone detected in evincing a disposition to favour my cause than he is pursued from house to house; and especially the places in my immediate neighbourhood, and in which ornaments of altars or the Order of the Mass or breviaries are discovered, are visited with severe punishment. And if it so happen that the enterprises which are planned are discovered before they are ripe enough to be well carried out, those that are concerned in them are made prisoners, or forsake the country, leaving their property behind them; and others lose both their goods and their lives; whereby I am kept in such mental anxiety that many a time I have longed that it were the will of God to take me from this world, deeming that by consequence the Catholics, concerning themselves no more with my cause, would practise patience, and content themselves as best they might until such time as God in His goodness should afford them some better opportunity; and for this reason it was that I resolved to treat with this Queen, albeit the terms were exorbitant and very harsh, that I might quit this realm and find a distant retreat, no matter where, rather than witness their pitiable ruin and destruction in this manner.
“You will explain that the friends that I have in this realm, marking the semblance which the Queen of England has till now made and even to-day makes of willingness to entertain the suggestion of my liberation, [perceive that it is merely] to amuse herself at my expense, so ill has she treated the deputies that have just now come here on the part of the highest and the majority of the nobility of my realm that remain my faithful subjects, and this in breach of her faith and promises and what she has said and sworn at all the conferences and seasons at which she has been addressed as to my affairs, nor has she omitted to carry out her pernicious designs, doing her utmost to hurt and damnify my said faithful subjects.
“You will furthermore set forth very clearly that the Queen of England has already many a time been on the point of compassing my death, even to charging one of her pensioners who at one time was at the same place with me to carry out this her will, and take my life: nor does she refrain from carrying out this her evil will for any other reason than that she is minded to ruin and destroy along with me all my good and faithful subjects, making believe that it is from me that comes the impediment to the fulfilment of the good hope that she holds out to them and me of my liberation and the general pacification which she feigns to desire by consent and accord; whereby they are damnified and discontented. And meanwhile my rebellious subjects with her countenance perpetrate all possible inhumanities and cruelties against them, whereby they little by little convert them into devotees of the Queen of England, so that my said friends are of opinion that I should crave the aid of all the Christian Princes, and chiefly of his Holiness and the Catholic King, with whose succour and favour they are resolved to stake their property and lives, and all that they have in this world, to re-establish in these realms the Catholic religion and therewith the justice of my title, so just as it is, in the said realms.
“The Duke of Norfolk, premier of the nobility of England, assumes the leadership of this enterprise, who, though for certain considerations and reasons he has in time past shown himself one of the most obedient subjects of the Queen of England, even in those matters that concern the practice of his religion, has for all that ever supported the Catholics, resisting to the extent of his ability the oppressions to which they have been subjected; and moreover the gentlemen with whom he has shown himself most familiar, and whom he has most trusted, are Catholics; as likewise all his domestics from the highest to the lowest; and also the tutors that he has had for his sons are in like manner Catholics. And so he has undertaken the defence of my cause against the rebels, who have the support and countenance of this Queen and of all the Protestants of this island, who think of nothing else but how to deprive me of honour and life, giving me on the one hand my fill of menaces, while on the other they set folk on discussing with me and urging me to change my religion, in order, as they say, to put an end to my so grievous troubles. And the said Duke has been one of those that covertly have counselled and admonished me to stand firm and constant; and when there has been question of the title and succession to this crown, he has never favoured any of the Protestants that advance pretensions to it, but rather has ever frankly declared that after the Queen of England, who is called his Sovereign Lady, the right to the kingdom belongs to me; which demonstrations and evidences of good intention and purpose inspire the Catholics with confidence in him and assurance of his sincerity and good will in the matter of the re-establishment of the Catholic religion. However, as the said Duke of Norfolk has the love, favour and support of not a few of the Protestant nobles, who perchance would desert him if he were openly and forthwith to evince a desire to change the religion; therefore the Catholics that take the lead in this enterprise are of opinion that he should temporize, and still keep in with the said Protestants, to make use of them, and open the game upon another occasion and pretext. For which the present conjuncture of circumstances augurs well; first, because many of the said Protestants favour my title both because the said Duke is of the same mind, and in some degree by reason of their particular enmities and quarrels with the Earls of Hertford and Huntington, and again because the Queen has imprisoned the said Duke, and still keeps a guard about him, for that she holds him suspect of acting in my interest, just as she is ever mindful to omit no measure whereby she may injure and prejudice me, as in particular on the present occasion the convocation of all the estates of the realm, (fn. 3) thereby to prejudice to the best of her power my just title and to promote that of the Earl of Hertford; and therefore they have determined under the guidance of the said Duke to declare themselves and take arms in my favour against those whom in their conscience they regard as bastards unfit to reign, and as bent on bringing into the succession to this crown another illegitimate line their mortal enemies.
“The other reason is the suspicious frame of mind into which they have recently got in regard to the projected marriage of the Queen with the Duke of Anjou; for the persuasions of those men and of the Protestants of France, who promote the match and dangle it before the eyes of these people here as the means of establishing their future weal throughout all Christendom, by the union of the crown of France with this crown and the intelligence and force which the Duke of Anjou will then have ever at his command, France acting in concert with the Queen of England and the Princes of Germany joined in confederacy for the behoof of religion, have less influence with them than their fear of falling into subjection to a foreign Prince, the more so that they see the Queen of England evince a strong, nay, a passionate propension to the said match, which they deem a bad one, and are resolved to resist it by force, calling to their aid the Duke of Norfolk, whom they desire to have here for their leader.
“Both these considerations will be more potent with the Protestants than with the Catholics; and they should suffice to effect a common understanding, although the Catholics' principal aim and intention be the establishment of the Catholic religion, to which the more part of the Protestants aforesaid will rather consent than to the match with the Duke of Anjou, or to the succession of Hertford, which the Queen projects against their will. Wherefore one may be assured as to the said Protestants that, if the question of religion should prevent them from joining forces with the Catholics, at least they will not oppose or baulk them, seeing that the Catholic cause is bound up with their own.
“Furthermore you will convey to his Holiness my sincere testimony to the integrity and good disposition of the Duke of Norfolk in the matter of the Catholic religion, for which his Holiness may rest assured that the said Duke will do whatever shall be prescribed by his Holiness and the Catholic King and myself; remain not and therefore I entreat that in case the King should for some quite satisfied by reason that the said Duke has not as yet declared particular purpose, such as the marriage of Don John of Austria, himself, and should therefore be slow to give be minded to postpone giving aid to such an enterprise planned for the benefit of Christendom, his Holiness put pressure upon him for the promotion of this cause, seeing that the enterprise cannot be promoted save by means of the Duke of Norfolk, premier lord as he is in this realm, by whose help and his friends' it is possible to disconcert the evil design of the heretics for the marriage of the Queen of England with the Duke of Anjou, and other enterprises in Germany, Flanders and France; and as it so nearly concerns the public interest of all Christendom and in particular of the Catholic King, forbearance or undue delay ought not to occasion the neglect or failure of so safe an enterprise as this which is now before us. In regard thereof Ridolfi is to add by word of mouth what he has heard from the Duke and the Bishop of Ross.
“By way of particular instruction, Ridolfi will assure his Holiness and his Catholic Majesty that France knows nothing of this enterprise, nor yet do any of my nearest kinsfolk know aught of it, as I have chosen the former above all others to be my refuge, and in particular the King of Spain as the Prince with whom, if God in His grace grant me that which justly belongs to me, I have resolved to maintain the same league and confederacy that has subsisted between the Low Countries and this realm of England in such wise as shall be found reasonable and convenient.
“Moreover, I desire Ridolfi to remind the Catholic King of the overture, which shortly before her death my lady and good sister the Queen of Spain of happy memory—God grant she be in glory—made me by letter, of the marriage of one of her daughters with my son, as to which I will approve whatever shall be his Majesty's pleasure; and to assure him of my good intention I will place the Prince my son in his custody, to be nurtured under his care in the virtues and instructed in the true Catholic religion.
“As to the succour that I crave of his Holiness and his Catholic Majesty, and the manner and time in which it is to be furnished together with the aids of the Catholic friends of this realm, I refer to the particular instruction which Ridolfi will bring from the Duke of Norfolk and the rest of the friends: however, Ridolfi may pledge my word to the Pope and the Catholic King, that in case they see fit to give effect to the enterprise by way of Scotland, whether on the side of Edinburgh or on that of Donbertrand [Dumbarton], my principal fortresses, I, the better to assure the landing of the succour, will put one of the two castles, that which shall be the better suited for the landing, and the safeguarding of all the enterprise, into the hands of their servants: and he may also promise the Pope and his Majesty, in return for such pecuniary subsidy as they shall be pleased to allot to this affair, the assistance in Scotland of as many men, as well infantry as cavalry, as they shall deem adequate to the said enterprise, and in addition every facility in the way of victuals and other necessaries, according as his Holiness and his Majesty shall have stipulated.
“Ridolfi shall also present himself in my name to my lady and good sister the Queen of Spain, giving her my letter, and intimating to her the delight that her marriage has afforded me, and the desire that I ever feel to gratify her, as also my hope that of her good grace she will do me the favour to put me also in the good grace of the King, her husband and my lord and good brother, beseeching her to do so much for me as to incline the King to embrace my cause and that of the Catholics of this realm, whereby besides the service done to God there will ensue great benefit to his Majesty's States and to all Christendom at large.
“Furthermore Ridolfi will make known to his Holiness how great is our grief that We were taken prisoner by one of our subjects, the Earl of Bodwell [Bothwell], and carried prisoner with the Earl of Hontelei [Huntly] our Chancellor, and Lord Ledinton [Lethington] our Secretary, to the Castle of Dunbar, and thence to the Castle of Edinburgh, where We were kept against our will in the said Earl's hands until he had procured a pretended divorce from his wife, Hontley's sister and our near kinswoman, and were also constrained to give our consent, albeit against our will, to [wed] the said Earl; wherefore We supplicate his Holiness to take such order touching this matter that We may be relieved of such an indignity by way of process at Rome, or by commission sent to Scotland to the bishops and other Catholic judges according as it shall seem good to his Holiness, whereof he will be apprised in full detail by the memorial that the Bishop of Ross will give him.
“The foregoing articles We have committed to your discreet and prudent judgment together with the other instructions given you on the part of the Duke of Norfolk and other nobles of this country our good friends, to the intent that you may make use of them as good opportunity shall present itself, adding thereto, as well on our part as on that of the nobility of this realm, what else has been more at large communicated to you personally, as well by the Bishop of Ross in our name, as by the said Duke and other nobles; and We pray you to expedite the said affairs with all possible diligence, reporting briefly to Us the answer that you receive, that We may come to a decision upon our affairs, which are all in suspense until you return.”
[March, 1571. Sheffield.] Deciphers. Italian. Printed by Labanoff, Lettres de Marie Stuart, vol. iii. pp. 221 et seq. Labanoff's text varies somewhat from those which have furnished the present version.
Vat. Lib.
Urb. Lat.
1042. f. 42d.
764. News Letter.
“We learn that in England in the Province of Wales there has occurred of late a mighty earthquake, which has devastated much country and changed the position of a mountain.”
23 March, 1571. Lyon. Italian. Copy.
f. 47d.
765. News Letter.
… “By the last letters from France we learn the death of Cardinal Sciatiglion [Châtillon] in England, and the consummation of the marriage of the Admiral with Madam of Savoy [Entremonts]; also the coronation of the Queen on the 16th [March] in S. Denis.”
14 April, 1571. Rome. Italian. Copy.
f. 51.
766. News Letter.
“It is understood that the Huguenot exiles of these countries do great damage in the Isle of Holland, ravaging and despoiling all the places and towns that are not defended by soldiers, and carrying away the plunder in their armed ships; and likewise some of them have taken to the sea as corsairs, and do great damage; and so insecure is the navigation that the Count of Bossu, Governor of Holland, has put to sea with six ships of war to chastise them if they will abide his coming.
“As to the accord with England it is hoped it may come about.”
14 April, 1571. Brussels. Italian. Copy.
f. 53.
767. News Letter.
“The Huguenot exiles of this country after doing much depredation in Holland, burning churches and plundering towns and castles, have departed, and betaken them to Oure [Dover], an English port, where they tarry till they will be joined by other ships, to wit, of the Huguenots of France; and it is thought they purpose yet greater mischief, as they evince a very ardent desire to damage these countries and the navigation.
“The Duke of Medina Celi, who is coming to assume the government here, will not, they say, depart before next September.”
23 April, 1571. Brussels. Italian. Copy.


  • 1. This sign appended to a name apparently indicates a doubt.
  • 2. This sign appended to a name apparently indicates a doubt.
  • 3. Parliament met on 2 April, 1571.