Rome: December 1573

Pages 135-141

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Vatican Archives, Volume 2, 1572-1578. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1926.

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December 1573

Vat. Arch.
Lett. di Vesc.
e Prel.
vol. x. f. 262.
261. Daniel [Brendel de Homburg], Archbishop of Mainz to Pope Gregory XIII.
From William Seres, duly accredited to him as nuncio by Mary, Queen of Scotland, the Archbishop has heard of her long detention in England by Queen Elizabeth; and though he knows not the grounds of this detention, yet at the nuncio's request, and as solicitude for peace is a duty enjoined upon all bishops by Christ, he most humbly beseeches his Holiness to undertake the afflicted Queen's cause, and endeavour to procure her liberation and reconciliation with the Queen of England.
1 Dec., 1573. Aschaffenburg. Latin.
Vat. Arch.
Nunt. di
vol. vi.
pp. 837, 841–4.
262. [Antonio Maria] Salviati, [late] Bishop [of S. Papoul], Nuncio in France to [Ptolemy Galli,] Cardinal of Como.
… “The ambassador that came from England had audience of the Queen Mother, the King of Poland and M. the Duke [of Alençon] at Nancy. With the Queen and the Duke he conversed much, with the King of Poland very little, and only in terms of compliment and ceremony; and he was forthwith sent back. Going and returning he was ever attended by the ambassador resident. They lived at their own charges, except that morning and evening they received presents of wines and other victuals; and at Nancy they lived wholly at the charges of M. the Duke.
“With the Most Christian King, whom he has visited at this town of Châlons, he has discussed nothing. Now that he is on his return to England by way of Paris, he will receive a present of the value of about 2,000 crowns.”
2 Dec., 1573. Châlons en Champagne. Italian.
—On the return from England last September of the Marshal de Retz, (fn. 1) I wrote you that he had treated of confirming the league that was already established between France and England, of the marriage of M. the Duke [of Alençon] with that Queen, and of the traffic of the English merchants with the ports of Poland; and likewise I told you that the Queen of England had said she was minded to continue the league, but deferred more definite answer until she should have spoken with her Council, which she then, being away from London towards the sea coast, had not with her. All the matters aforesaid have since been ventilated in the Council; and the ambassador that has now come from England brings the answer. As to the marriage, the question of M. the Duke's coming to England to show himself is revived; and as to the league, he says that the Queen is minded to continue the league with France; nay, he has brought a handful of capitulations; to which the Queen Mother, who is far from the Court of France, and she too without her Council, has made no answer, but has adjourned the matter until the return of the Most Christian King.
“By what I understand the French would desire to see if some of the German Protestants also might be included in this league by way of safeguard against the risk of the Huguenots and the like malcontents obtaining foreign aid; of which, for my part, I think they are not very apprehensive, matters here being no longer as they have been in times past; for at least it is known for certain that the Huguenots have neither leader nor money, nor such reputation, either in the realm or abroad, as would be necessary for the accomplishment of something considerable; and of the other malcontents there seems to be even less reason to be apprehensive than of the Huguenots. It is not now a question of open insurrection against the King, a step so grave that none will be found rashly to take it; but nevertheless one is not averse to secure oneself against all possible eventualities. Besides which, the object is by these means so to arrange matters with the Germans and English that the enterprises of the rebels of Flanders may be facilitated, and defence by the servants of the Catholic King rendered more difficult; which end would be attained with ease if this league should be formed, for all the seditious and malcontents, being at a loss what to do, must needs then turn their attention to Flanders, where the rebels might be subsidized from here. Observe, finally, that in the negotiation of these leagues the [Queen] Regent, who aspires to the Empire for her sons, thinks by these means to regain the good will of the Germans, who in such a matter count for much, and since St. Bartholomew's day have been estranged. And then on the Queen of England's part the object is to set up Huguenotry again in Flanders and in France and reinstate, by what I understand, the sons of Admiral Coligni and the rest that survived the day of St. Bartholomew in their possessions and privileges in France, so as to have there a powerful faction which would be no less in accord with her than with the German Protestants. Which being accomplished, so much the worse for the Catholic religion in France; nor can I be sure that the [Queen] Regent is, or the Queen will be, so much occupied with this as with the desire and determination to introduce confusion into the affairs of Flanders, and thereby to contrive to get aid to subserve a design to succeed to the Empire. God help us.
“As to the traffic of the English with Poland, so far as I can discover, nothing more is said. So I say no more of it.”
Decipher. Italian.
Vat. Arch.
Nunt. di
vol vi. p. 853.
263. [Antonio Maria] Salviati, [late] Bishop [of S. Papoul], Nuncio in France to [Ptolemy Galli,] Cardinal of Como.
… “On the 20th of October I wrote to you that the Duke of Alva had sent a Flemish gentleman to the Queen of England to open negotiations for the adjustment of the differences between Flanders and England; and that he was also commissioned to request the Queen to send an ambassador to Spain, in order that his Majesty might have one in England.
“I now understand that that gentleman has returned to the Duke of Alva with no part of the business that he had to negotiate accomplished. For this, and other reasons better known to them than to me, I observe in these Catholic ministers extreme anxiety in regard to the affairs of Flanders, so much so that I have never known them in greater anxiety.”
8 Dec., 1573. Soissons in Picardy. Italian.
Vat. Arch.
Nunt. di
vol. vi. p. 908.
264. [Antonio Maria] Salviati, [late] Bishop [of S. Papoul], Nuncio in France to [Ptolemy Galli,] Cardinal of Como.
… “The Comendador Mayor has sent hither the Seneschal of Sexuault [sic Hainault (fn. 2) ] to announce to the King his arrival in Flanders, and to apprise him of the powers that he has received from his Catholic Majesty to treat in a good neighbourly fashion with France. This gentleman, who is a Fleming, has already had audiences of the King and been received by the Queen, notwithstanding that she was in bed, as she has been for two days, by reason of an attack of colic; but now she has recovered; and the Seneschal is soon to depart.
“At the same time the Comendador despatched with a similar commission the Count of Aremberg to the Emperor and the princes of Germany, and, by what they say, sent to England, where, from a very good source, it is understood that the offices of Spaniards are hardly acceptable, and where for that reason they do not allow his Catholic Majesty to have an ambassador resident, Signor d'Aura [d'Havré] to adjust the differences between the English and the Flemings.”
31 Dec., 1573. Poissy. Italian.
Vat. Arch.
Nunt. di
vol. i. ff. 391–
265. Memorial on the Affairs of the Netherlands and the Queen of Scots: by [Sir Thomas Stucley].
“Marking the retreat of the Prince of Orange, the reduction without resistance of the towns of Mechlin, Roermond and Zutphen to the obedience of the Catholic King, I had conceived good hope that all the rest of Guelders, Holland and Zealand, save Flushing, which, so near as it is to England, the pretended Queen will hardly abandon, deeming it as a sort of equivalent for Calais, would soon surrender and crave pardon, and that the war and the infinite cost thereof would in a few days be ended, and that the evil humours of the people and the populace would die out along with the reputation of their idol, Orange; but I was mistaken in this judgment, for many days, weeks, months have passed, and little progress has been made. God grant we may not see a greater conflagration, and a greater deluge of foreign heretics fall upon this commonwealth to its loss, and be harboured by the people in a frame of mind yet more desperate. His Catholic Majesty's power is great and adequate in the long run to clear these Provinces of the arms of foreigners and to reduce them to his obedience; but if he finds no method of reconciling by his own authority and tact the hearts of the people to himself, and abasing the idols they have made to themselves, to wit, the pretended Queen of England and Orange, he can but expect to have every year fresh tumults and rebellions of the people and perpetual waste of treasure that might perchance have been employed in other enterprises to the service of God and his Majesty.
“Many of our nation foresaw these tumults, judging by nought but the manifest neglect of the cause of God, and nevertheless no credence was given to them, as being exiles and refugees, speaking only what passion dictated and not zeal for God. The Christian Princes may be assured that if they make not the cause of God their main care, they will never have peace, and their designs will miscarry. I mean not to say that his Majesty deserves this censure, and that he is lacking in zeal and desire to propagate the Catholic faith; but good and holy intentions suffice not; we must needs give orders and see that they are carried out if we know that our enterprise is in no degree lacking in religion and justice and piety. And his Majesty's counsellors confess that nought is lacking but his command that it be expedited.
“And albeit time and opportunity seem not to be so propitious and favourable as in the past, nevertheless it behoves us to be up and doing, and the sooner the better, so as to allow not that accursed woman to gather, as she well knows how, the fruits of this negligence, for if the cause be not done away, the effects will never cease. And if his Catholic Majesty thinks to postpone this enterprise until the wars are ended in these Provinces, we shall never see the time.
“Secretary Cecil, who may be called King of England, in order to maintain his greatness and authority, seeks by all manner of ways and means to extirpate the Catholic faith in that realm and to foster heresies also in the neighbouring realms, and to that end will make use of Montgomery in France and of Orange in Flanders, who with 100,000 crowns, which they will have by the year, will plunge the States of the Christian Princes into incredible travail and expense. Most true are these arguments, and would to God they were understood! It will be a service to God and our Queen, and the part of a good servant to his Majesty to expound to him point by point the state of affairs in these parts, that he may be foreclosed of all hope that the future will afford a more convenient time for this our enterprise.
“That which would best serve and indeed is necessary in order to quench such a flame and obviate its consequences would be that our Rome should find a Scipio; else it will abide in travail and Carthage will continue to flourish. This is not a matter in which the Christian Princes should be jealous of one another, and put up with so much loss in their States and the despite and dishonour done to God, rather than that their brother should do well. I know not whether it arise from the little love that is borne to our nation, or what else, but so it is that though many confess that this enterprise is laudable, pious and honourable, yet they set it not forth to his Majesty with the fervour that it deserves, and so it is not embraced.
“But England has this to her credit and honour, and, when one compares her with these Provinces, it is no little, that long as she has been governed by that accursed woman, who has been and is unremitting in endeavours by persuasion and menace to induce her to abandon the Catholic faith, she nevertheless remains inwardly, ay, and outwardly, sound. And then there is our Queen, who for all the persuasions of the pretended Queen, and all the wiles of that Secretary, has refused to follow the Huguenot sect; nay rather, woman though she be, and alone amid so many enemies, oppressed, and defamed in the eyes of the world, ay, and perchance by those very men that were guilty of her husband's blood, remains constant and steadfast in the Catholic faith; and deserted and disparaged though she be, in defiance of all the dictates of humanity, by Christian Princes, yet is minded rather to forfeit the triple crown of those three kingdoms, ay and her life to boot, as it is much to be feared she may, than to rebel against the Church of God, a thing to break for pity and compassion the hearts of Christian Princes, and their cool counsellors. What were the praise, how great were the merit of his Catholic Majesty if by his aid the holy faith were restored in the realms of England and Scotland! Especially since, as the Saviour says, a single soul is worth more than all the world, and so many would be gained thereby.
“It may be doubted whether, if his Majesty shall postpone this enterprise yet awhile, it slip not from his grasp, and the enemy, to accomplish their designs of empire in that island, lay not violent hands upon our Queen, by whose loss his Majesty would lose all basis of doing service in those realms, and the love and affection that the Catholics bear him would be turned into ill-will for that a most virtuous and most innocent Queen had been so inhumanly left to perish. I forbear to advert to much beside bearing on his Majesty's service; but this last is the most important and main matter, and should make an abiding impression on his inmost heart, whereof some good should speedily be seen to germinate.”
1573. [Flanders?] Italian. Copy. (fn. 3)
Vat. Arch.
Arm. lxiv.
vol. xxviii. ff.
266. Questions touching the Bull of Pope Pius V against the Queen of England.
It may be argued that the bull is no longer binding upon Catholics because it has failed of its purpose, since, instead of helping the Catholic cause, it has damaged it, and a law that has proved futile is no longer binding.
On the other hand defective publication of the bull is not alleged, and apart from the bull every Catholic is bound to hold the Queen illegitimate and excommunicate.
Nevertheless, Catholics may with a clear conscience obey the Queen in civil matters. They may even with a mental reservation acknowledge her as head of the Anglican Church. They may defend her against those who attack her unlawfully. They may not, however, defend her against those who attack her vi bullœ or studio religionis, and with reasonable hope of victory, but in such a case are bound to co-operate against her.
The Queen, though the bull had not been published, might lawfully be dethroned as a perturber of the peace of the universal Church.
[1573–4 ?] Latin.


  • 1. Cf. p. 129, supra.
  • 2. Cf. Corresp. de Philippe II., ed. Gachard, vol. ii. p. 446.
  • 3. This document was apparently written in the summer of 1573, but as the date is not more precisely determinable it has seemed best to relegate it to the close of the year. There can be little doubt that the author was Sir Thomas Stucley.