Rome: February 1574

Pages 143-148

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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February 1574

Vat. Arch.
Nunt. di
vol. iv. f. 302.
273. Advices from his Highness [of Savoy].
… “A painter in the service of the Prince of Orange, who has been taken, reports that the said Prince is resolved henceforth to be served by none but Germans, Scots, French and English, and that there are in his service 9,000 foot and 4,000 seamen, and that he was provided with funds by those States.”
2 Feb., 1574. Brussels. Italian. Copy.
Vat. Arch.
vol. xxxix. ff.
274. [George,] Lord Seton to his Son.
Rather than subscribe the confession of faith which is now being forced upon the country by the heretics, I am resolved to forfeit all my substance and betake me to Rome. The revenues of your abbey were sequestrated after Queen Mary crossed the border, and the Regent Morton is now minded to appropriate the house and church. I enclose the heretics' profession of faith, that you may show it to the Pope, and assure him that there was never so fair an opportunity as the present of reclaiming the kingdom to the Catholic Church. [James] Irving has done his duty excellently in defiance of all the threats of the heretics, by whom he was frequently examined as to Roman affairs. He has been in prison since May, 1573, but is now at large, though bound over to appear whenever required by his enemies. Your mother and brothers and sisters send cordial greetings. Save for your sister's marriage, now arranged, with Lord Claud, son of the Duke of Châtelherault, I have little to keep me in Scotland. Kiss the Pope's feet for me with great reverence and crave of him his blessing for me and all my family for our confirmation in constancy to the Catholic religion in face of the sore trials that are imminent. Forget not to kiss Cardinal Alessandrino's hand for me in recognition of his having received from Dr. Sander my letters containing full information as to the affairs of this kingdom…. God have you ever in His holy protection.
3 Feb., 1574. Setoun. Italian.
Vat. Arch.
Nunt. di
Spagna, vol.
viii. p. 63.
275. [Nicholas Ormanetto,] Bishop of Padua, Nuncio in Spain to [Ptolemy Galli,] Cardinal of Como.
… “I understand by a good channel that the public business with which I now deal occupies his Majesty's attention, and that by God's grace matters will take good shape; and that no pains are being spared to make a good fleet in Biscay to lend aid by sea to the business of Flanders, nor yet will there be any neglect to make the best arrangements possible for defence against the Turk, nor is the business of England forgotten. I have no more at present to tell you.”
5 Feb., 1574. [Madrid.] Decipher. Italian.
Vat. Arch.
Nunt. di
vol. iv. f. 303d.
276. News from his Highness [of Savoy].
“It is said that Baron d'Hobeni [Aubigny (fn. 1) ] has come back from England, saying that if the Queen does the half of what she promises, she will do no little, for she has promised to do for his Majesty a thing that he will never forget.”
7 Feb., 1574. Brussels. Italian. Copy.
Vat. Arch.
Nunt. di
vol. vii. p. 184.
277. [Antonio Maria] Salviati, [late] Bishop [of S. Papoul], Nuncio in France to [Ptolemy Galli,] Cardinal of Como.
“Amid all this agitation about the Huguenots the English ambassador seems to discover some degree of partisanship, and shows that he has their cause more at heart than would seem reasonable, considering that in such matters princes are wont to steer as clear as possible of manifestoes.”
9 Feb., 1574. Poissy. Italian.
Vat. Arch.
Nunt. di
Spagna, vol.
viii. p. 67.
278. [Nicholas Ormanetto,] Bishop of Padua, Nuncio in Spain to the Same.
… “They are busy making ready a great fleet for Flanders; and every one fears that the Queen of England, learning what is going on, may strengthen her own fleet.”
10 Feb., 1574. [Madrid.] Decipher. Italian.
Vat. Lib.
Urb. Lat.
1044. f. 58.
279. News Letter.
… “Baron d'Ubigni [Aubigny] has returned from England, whither he was sent to notify, as usual, the arrival of the new governor (fn. 2) of these countries. He reports having seen in that island the embarcation of 500 arquebusiers for the service of the Prince of Orange.”
14 Feb., 1574. Antwerp. Italian.
Vat. Lib.
Urb. Lat.
f. 62d.
280. News Letter.
“Middelburg still holds out and the Comendador Mayor uses all diligence to succour the place, offering great rewards to any that should afford it succour, though they should be rebels. His Excellency has sent 20 ships for this purpose, of which four, they say, have reached Middelburg. Colonel Mondragon valorously refuses all terms, offered though they are by Orange in writing, answering with a good courage that he has enough to live on for a month. One hundred and forty rebels have burned a village near Bommel; and all the light horse that were in Bolduch have been killed or taken. Don Fernando de la Noya [Lannoy], the new Governor of Holland, does deeds worthy of his valour, and it is hoped that he will be of great service to that province. The Queen of England is busy arming, but to what end none knows. M. de Aure [Havré] has orders to raise 20 companies of Walloons, and no doubt they will be picked companies. The Estates in their resolution set forth many doubts which require much consideration. His Excellency perseveres day and night in labouring to secure the public peace and well being.”
15 February, 1574. Brussels. Spanish.
Vat. Arch.
Nunt. Germ.
vol. lxxvi.
f. 136.
281. James Irving, Scotsman, Knight of the Order of Jerusalem to Pope Gregory XIII.
“Your Holiness will, I suppose, not have forgotten those matters which at my own instance you most justly entrusted to me before I quitted Rome, and that, to ensure for the pious business the readier accomplishment of your excellent intention, you sent me to the Cardinal Legate Orsino with a letter in form of a brief.
“I was in nothing remiss in the discharge of your Holiness' commission, as the Legate and the Archbishop of Glasgow will nowise deny. For as soon as I had taken leave of them, I departed for Scotland by way of Flanders. From Antwerp, as I was embarking, I sent your Holiness a letter wherein I designated the person who better and with more secrecy than any one else then at Rome would inform you of all our affairs.
“What befell me after my arrival on 3 May in my country, what the charges were upon which I was cast into a most gloomy dungeon and am there to this day detained, and who they were by whom most basely for the sake of gain I was betrayed, I had rather they tell who, I know, feel my suffering as their own than that I should seem to expatiate too much in my own cause. For I ought not, I own, to grieve to suffer so sorely at the hands of the enemies of Christ, but rather to rejoice that God has given me such steadfastness that even the enemies, to say but what is true, are amazed thereat. But fortunately, Most Holy Father, neither your brief nor any of my letters fell into the hands of lost men; for which reason it was by no signal proofs, without any witness, without any right, but upon false suspicions and tales of bitter delators (to say nought of those who profess the Holy Catholic religion, but falsely) that they repeatedly accused me and sought my conviction, and are not yet content for all the wrong and evil they have done me. But do and endeavour as they may, and with all their might, to constrain me at length to glance aside, or fail of or swerve from that which is just, their labour is vain, they will, I believe, accomplish nothing, nothing; they will not impair, they will not alter my spirit, which no trials have hitherto availed to break. Humbly, however, I pray your Holiness to take care that Cæsar Glorierius give not a copy of the letter which you sent by me to your Legate to anyone; for I know that crafty and cunning men have already sent from England and Scotland to get a copy of this letter, and should they succeed, it will be the ruin of me and all our house.
“For the rest I know not what to say of the condition of this realm and the island at large. One thing, however, I make bold to affirm, that your Holiness may put more trust in one man, Lord Seton, than in many others of this island that here and elsewhere and even at Rome I have seen professing the Catholic religion: as to whose religion I say nothing; but now, as before, I sorely grieve that very many of them seek their own rather than the things of Jesus Christ. But what service he of whom I speak, Lord Seton, has done for the Queen of Scots and the Duke of Norfolk and the rest of the English Catholics, how steadfast he has been in every adversity from the time of the first rising of the Scots, what he has done by land and sea for the Catholic faith and the authority of the Roman See, after what manner and by what methods he has caused his sons to be brought up in the holiness of the Christian religion among the most learned religious of the Society of Jesus, is known to all; and by none are that most illustrious man's efforts, mind and steadfastness in all circumstances better appreciated than by all that society, to which he would have devoted himself entirely but that a lawful wife hampered his efforts.
“Often have I had secret converse with him touching matters of the utmost moment bearing upon the reduction of all that island to the obedience of the Holy See; and I doubt not that your Holiness will no sooner hear than approve his pious intention and excellent policy; for they are of a kind that may readily be carried out with no expense on your Holiness' part or loss to the Holy See, nay, rather, to the imperishable glory of both. Wherefore, finding himself and three sons excommunicated by this malignant church, for certain it is that decrees of so harsh a tenor have been published against them, as Alexander Seton, a most hopeful youth, has, I suppose, already by his father's letter apprised your Holiness, to which decrees and heretical profession of faith they must conform, as I know for certain they never will, or forfeit all their possessions and be exiled, his lordship for the best of reasons resolved privily to betake him to your Holiness, and seek not his own but the things that are of Jesus Christ alone, wherewith is joined the imperishable fame, honour and glory of your Holiness, whom he desires above all things to be the prime mover in this glorious business, as from divers discourses I have gathered. For many were the occasions on which I found that I could say nothing that was more congenial to the mind and pious meditations of this most excellent and just man than when by most cogent arguments I showed him that there is nothing that your Holiness more or more ardently desires than forthwith in secret, and one day openly, to be the most potent mover in such matters as make for the complete restoration of the Catholic faith, whom God preserve as long as may be for the perfect and pious accomplishment of the like purposes. Lord Seton and I humbly kiss your Holiness' feet, earnestly imploring you to deign to aid us with your most holy prayers.”
15 February, 1574. Edinburgh. Latin.
Vat. Arch.
Nunt. di
vol. viii. p. 72.
282. [Nicholas Ormanetto,] Bishop of Padua, Nuncio in Spain to [Ptolemy Galli,] Cardinal of Como.
… “There is no neglect of the English business, for the furtherance of which. I remember, Pius V of holy memory gave 100,000 ducats; and I am sure the Pope would give not only this sum of 100,000 ducats for so great a gain of souls to Christ our Lord, but also as much more as he could raise. Nothing has been said here to me of aid in this particular; but in general terms reference has been made to the great embarrassments and straits in which his Majesty stands in attending to so many enterprises. Nevertheless I have said not a word as to this matter, for I would not make so bold; but this I have seen fit to say in order that it may be considered whether it might be well, in order to dispose his Majesty better to aid this holy enterprise, and more clearly to evince the good will of his Holiness, to make some offering in aid thereof in such manner as may appear most expedient.”
17 February, 1574. [Madrid.] Decipher. Italian.
Vat. Lib.
Urb. Lat.
1044. f. 65.
283. News Letter.
“There is under arrest a soldier who purposed to give the Castle of this city to the Prince of Orange, for which treachery he had received from and in the name of the said Prince 1,500 crowns paid to him by two merchants, who are also under arrest with some other accomplices, and will be punished.
“Middelburg has at last surrendered, having nothing left to eat, upon the terms following:—
“A safe conduct for Colonel Mondragon and all his captains and soldiers with their arms and baggage to Flanders.
“Three great men left with them as hostages by the Prince of Orange with a gentleman of Toulouse, much beloved by him, who is to be exchanged for Count de Bossu.
“All the citizens to be at liberty to remain in their houses secure of life and goods, provided they take the same oath which those of Holland have taken, and pay 75,000 crowns for repair of the dikes and largesse to the soldiers, that they be not sacked by them.” (fn. 3)
25 February, 1574. Antwerp. Italian. Copy.
Vat. Arch.
Nunt. di
vol. iv. f. 299.
284. News from His Highness [of Savoy].
“It is understood that Montgomery is busy making certain treaties and accords in Poitou, in which country the Queen of England has some pretensions on account of dowries, and has promised, if aught result, to aid the enterprise. It seems that in view of this design she has quite forgiven Montgomery, with whom she had been wroth, for that he was tardy and negligent in succouring La Rochelle during the siege. And the Queen will show herself the better disposed towards them in the event, which is apprehended, of the fall of Middelburg, which, we understand by letters from Antwerp of the 14th, was quite given up for lost, and, if not already taken, could not long hold out.”
27 February, 1574. Turin. Italian. Copy.


  • 1. Gilles de Lens, Baron d'Aubigny. Cf. Corresp. du Card. de Granvelle (Acad. Roy. De Belgique), vol. v. p. 35.
  • 2. Don Louis de Requesens.
  • 3. See Strada (Stapylton), Book viii. p. 2.