Rome: December 1575

Pages 237-243

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 1575

Vat. Lib.
Urb. Lat.
1044. f. 685.
456. News Letter.
… “An ambassador from the Queen of England has presented himself here to arrange the restitution of goods detained; and also, it is said, with a commission to use his good offices in this accord.”
4 Dec., 1574 [sic endorsed 1575]. Brussels. Italian. Copy.
Vat. Arch.
Misc. Arm.
ii. vol. 84.
(Polit. 83.)
f. 36.
457. Last Declaration made by the Earl of Bothwell just before his death as the very truth in the Castle of Malmar [sic Malmoe], 5 Dec., 1575.
Exonerating the Queen of Scotland of complicity in the murder of Darnley and incriminating the Earls of Moray, Argyll, Morton, Glencairn, Crawford, Lord Robert of Holy Rood, now Abbot of the Orkneys, Lord Boyd, Barons Lydington [Lethington] Barlebest (sic), Graunge, who though not present in person, were present by their bonds and counsels.
Confessing that he had laboured by “enchantments” [magic arts ?] to gain the Queen's love both at Paris [1560] and everywhere else, but most of all in Scotland, had deliberately contrived the divorce from his wife, and had intended to make away with the young King and all the nobility that might oppose him; and finally that he had violated divers noble maidens French, Danish, English and Scots.
Witnessed by Bering Calbuer, Lord of Malmoe Castle, Otto Brace, Lord of Elcenbrocht [Helsingborg] Castle, Paris Bralb, Lord of Restur [Ystad ?] Castle, M. Gallionstart, Lord of Fulumstre [Falsterbo ?] Castle, the Bishop of Schonen and four bailiffs of the city of Malmoe.
Latin. Copy.
The document concludes in due form with the Earl's reception of the Eucharist and death, which, however, took place on 14 April, 1578, and not at Malmoe but at Dragsholm. Nevertheless the document may not be altogether without historic basis. A rumour that Bothwell was dead was current in July, 1575 (Burghley State Papers, ed. Murdin, p. 285). Queen Mary in May, 1576, learned that he had left behind him a last declaration; and in writing to the Archbishop of Glasgow (1 June) she adverted to it, mentioning that she had heard that it was attested by “Otto Braw du chasteau d' Elcembro [Helsingborg], Paris Braw du chasteau de Vascut [Ystad ?], M. Gullunstarne du chasteau de Fulkenster [Falsterbo ?], l'évesque de Skonen et quatre baillifz de la ville,” and suggesting that de Monceaulx should be despatched to investigate the matter. (See Lettres de Marie Stuart, ed. Labanoff, vol. iv. p. 330.) It may, therefore, be the fact that Bothwell, being, as he thought, near death, made on 5 Dec, 1575, a declaration substantially identical with that attributed to him by the foregoing document, and did not revoke it upon his recovery.
Vat. Arch.
Nunt. di
vol. viii. f. 601.
458. Nicholas Ormanetto, Bishop of Padua, Nuncio in Spain to [Ptolemy Galli,] Cardinal of Como.
“The English ambassador has departed well content, to judge by his bearing: he has received abundance of good words and a gold chain worth 1,000 crowns. By what I understand his errand has proved bootless as to the matters of which he treated, to wit, the establishment of a close friendship with his Majesty, the perpetuation of the accords made in Flanders by the Duke of Alva with his pretended Queen, and the arrangement of fresh accords, as to which I have heard no particulars except that it was proposed that the Queen should have an ordinary ambassador here.
“I am assured that he has let it be known that the pretended Queen has a daughter, thirteen years of age, and that she would bestow her in marriage on someone acceptable to his Catholic Majesty. I have heard talk before of this daughter, but the English here say that they know nought of such a matter.
“This one thing is certain, that this lady has behaved as if she had a most ardent desire to have this King for her good brother, and she makes him most handsome offers, which she has clinched to some purpose, having received and well treated in her ports the King's little force that is going to Flanders. The common talk is that this lady is very timid, and that in consequence of Stucli [Stucley] and James [Fitz] Maurice going to Rome, and what more she conjectures, she has come to apprehend some trouble, and desires by this method to make sure of this King. Be that as it may, we may be well assured that she is not acting sincerely, and that she will be always kindling fire both in Flanders and in France to keep both those Princes perpetually at war, that she may live in peace.”
9 Dec., 1575. [Madrid.] Decipher. Italian.
Vat. Arch.
Nunt. di
vol. viii. f. 610.
459. [Nicholas Ormanetto, Bishop of Padua,] Nuncio in Spain to [Ptolemy Galli,] Cardinal of Como.
… “You cannot conceive how necessary it is to keep one's eyes open here. We are surrounded on all hands by heretics, and there are other matters that demand very careful attention, of which there is, as there should be, no lack; and this is one of the reasons by which I have been actuated in soliciting the departure of the English ambassador, and that on no account heretics be harboured here, which his Majesty evidently understands and appreciates, for he has acted thereon, having forthwith dismissed the said ambassador.”
10 Dec., 1575. [Madrid.] Decipher. Italian.
Vat. Lib.
Urb. Lat.
1044. p. 674d.
460. News Letter.
… “To-day intelligence is to hand that the Prince of Orange had victualled Sirichs [Zierickzee] by means of eight vessels, Scottish and French, the enemy's fleet being on the scene forty ships strong. On Tuesday much artillery firing was heard in those parts, and it is said that they have landed men who engaged ours, who fell in great numbers, and that the Queen of England is arming mightily.
“It is whispered that the English are privily withdrawing their forces thence and transferring their business to Köln and Hamburg.
“Part of the fleet of Spain in company with three English ships has arrived at Dunkirk in Flanders, and the other part at Havre de Grace.”
11 Dec., 1575. Antwerp. Italian. Copy.
Vat. Lib.
Urb. Lat.
1045. f. 201.
461. News Letter.
“The town of Sirichse [Zierickzee] has been revictualled, but is still besieged, and Walloon troops are being sent thither. There is, however, very slight hope left of taking it; and the Queen of England's ambassadors are still busy both here and in Spain, treating of the accord between the King and the Prince of Orange.
“One of those English ships that scoured the seas in these parts has been taken; and the Queen has done exemplary justice upon the officers that had contravened her order that none should enlist in the service of any foreign Prince.”
18 Dec., 1575. Antwerp. Italian. Copy.
Vat. Arch.
Nunt. di
vol. viii.
f. 615d.
462. [Nicholas Ormanetto, Bishop of Padua,] Nuncio in Spain to [Ptolemy Galli,] Cardinal of Como.
… “As to English and Irish affairs, I see the difficulties inherent in them and how ill able the Catholic King will be to accomplish this enterprise if the Turk should come out with the force that is attributed to him, and while there is still no adjustment of affairs in Flanders, which are the occasion of great expense, whereas in France the pacification makes progress. I also suspect that the pretended [Queen] of England apprehends an attack, and so might make ready to defend herself; and our inability to obtain the apparatus of war in any of the States of his Catholic Majesty, as he will not discover himself, or in those of France, lest we arouse the suspicion of that Power, renders the enterprise the more difficult. Yet I think we ought not to be slack about this holy enterprise, because, if we should have regard to the difficulties that discover themselves, we should never accomplish it, for they seem to me to be ever increasing. I therefore shall not fail to encourage his Majesty, and keep him steadfast in his purpose that it go forward.
“As to the marriage of the Queen of Scotland, if it could be arranged before her establishment on the throne, we might have good hope of giving her a husband in accordance with the common desire, to wit, of his Holiness and his Catholic Majesty; but once on the throne, she might think of making a match to her own mind with the approval of her subjects.
“As to the captain of the enterprise, I see not who but Marc Antonio Colonna could be quite competent for all the duties incident to so great a business; and I believe he would have his Majesty's confidence, especially since Chiappino Vitelli and Count Santa Fiore (fn. 1) are dead—not that, had they been living, they would have been of much service, by reason of their serious indispositions.
“As to the portion of the spoil that should fall to his Holiness as contributory to the expenditure, I believe that his Majesty will approve not only the reservation and restoration but also the augmentation of the prerogatives and privileges of the Apostolic See in that realm so far as his own will is concerned. But all will hinge on the disposition of Parliament, without whose consent everything is insecure, even though it be the will of the Sovereign, and in the alteration of the laws defining jurisdiction in that realm it is very difficult for him to get his way; for when the realm was brought back to the obedience of the Holy See in the time of Queen Mary and this King, during the legation of Cardinal Pole, no change was made, save that, as regards the obedience, the status quo of a year before the schism of Henry VIII was re-established.
“I will now say something from memory of the prerogative of the Apostolic See in that country. As to Ireland, the Apostolic See granted the government and dominion of that island to the King of England, and, if my memory is accurate, the grant was by Alexander III (fn. 2) to King Henry II; and the concession was made without reservation of right to the Pope; but this will more clearly appear in the briefs of the concession that will be found in the Roman Archives. I remember seeing this bull in England, and I think that there was no reservation whatever therein, though the Irish say openly that that island est juris Sedis Apostolicae. It may be that there is something which I have not seen, but experience shows that it makes no difference, seeing that there has been such a long succession of Kings of England in that island without recognition of the Holy See. Afterwards in the time of the schism Henry VIII raised that dominion to the rank of a kingdom; and whereas aforetime the Kings of England styled themselves Lords of Ireland, he was the first to call himself King of Ireland; and his successor Queen Mary and the King her husband, having a scruple about using that title assumed by a schismatic King, obtained from Paul IV the erection into a kingdom.
“As to the realm of England, there is the so-called Blessed Peter's penny, which occasions no difficulty because it has always been levied by the Apostolic See, and there have been many collectors of this penny, which was wont to yield 700 or 800 ducats, as may be seen in the books of the Chamber. After the reconciliation of the realm Pope Paul IV deputed me collector, but I made no use of my powers as I quitted the realm, and there ensued that which ensued.
“King John of England yielded the realm into the hand of Pandolf, Legate Apostolic in those realms, promising that neither he nor his successors would ever take that realm save from the hand of the Pope, and I have seen the writing whereby he did so and another touching the same matter, on the strength of which it has sometimes been pretended that the Apostolic See has the lordship of England: as to which I was at one time at pains to inform myself, and found that this right does not exist because John had no power to transfer any right or alter the laws or the succession in the kingdom without the consent of Parliament, of which there is no evidence; besides which there was no exercise of such right, for none of John's successors received the kingdom from the Pope's hand.
“One thing I observed in England that makes much in favour of the Pontifical authority, to wit, that when the two houses of the White and Red Roses were united by the marriage of King Henry VII with Elizabeth, daughter of Edward IV, whereby an end was put to the great and ancient rivalries of those two houses, King Henry and his Queen procured a declaration of the Pope touching this matter and his confirmation of this union, whereby the authority of the Roman Pontiff is manifest even in temporal matters such as the succession to States.
“I procured a copy of that bull and of many other like matters concerning those two realms, which together with the registers of the legation I lost on the death of the Cardinal [Pole], as I was not then in England. (fn. 3)
“Cardinal Cervino, afterwards Pope Marcellus, a great and diligent investigator of matters pertaining to the Apostolic See, made a collection of all the pretensions of the Holy See in that realm and of the bulls relating to them, if my memory serves me well, and sent it to Cardinal Pole, which book came to my hands, and is, I think, at Padua among my papers; and though I believe that you will have found all that there is in the Roman Archives, nevertheless, if you believe that there is some light to be had from this writing, you can write to Galerio to send it you under obligation of silence and secrecy.
“The Kings of England claim the jus supplicandi for persons meet to rule churches; they administer temporalities sede vacante, and require bishops to swear fealty to them for the temporalities. They have, moreover, laws most prejudicial to the Apostolical authority and the liberty of the Church, and among them one called premoneri [praemunire] which is most bestial; to which laws they hold on tooth and nail, as the saying is, and I can bear good witness thereof, for there was daily to do about the matter. If these laws could be abolished when by God's grace we get the upper hand, it would be a most holy thing: we did indeed at the time of the reconciliation procure the abolition by Parliament of all laws prejudicial to the authority and obedience of the Apostolic See made at the time of the schism, all of which were specified; and an authentic catalogue of them was made and sent to Paul IV, and placed in the Castle [of S. Angelo] among the other documents of the Apostolic See.”
19 Dec., 1575. [Madrid.] Decipher. Italian.
Vat. Arch.
Arm. xliv.
vol. 28. f. 58.
no. 106.
463. [Ptolemy Galli, Cardinal of Como] to [Dr.] William [afterwards Cardinal] Allen. (fn. 4)
Thanking him in the Pope's name for his letter of 8 Nov. and his report presented by Audoenus [Thomas ? Owen] on the progress of the Seminary then being founded [at Rome] for the benefit of the English nation.
24 Dec., 1575. Rome. Latin. Copy.
Vat. Lib.
Urb. Lat.
1044. f. 708.
464. News Letter.
… “The Queen of England's ambassador here is negotiating the peace, as does also the other ambassador of the said Queen who is with the Prince of Orange. There is, however, little hope of peace.”
24 Dec., 1575. Antwerp. Italian. Copy.
Vat. Arch.
Nunt. di
vol. vii. p. 760.
465. [Antonio Maria] Salviati, [late] Bishop [of S. Papoul], Nuncio in France to [Ptolemy Galli,] Cardinal of Como.
… “Monsieur has sent to the Queen of England M. de la Porte, who, I understand, has been in the service of Montmorenci, as also that his errand is to visit the said Queen and assure her that he [Monsieur] has no mind to the accord [of Champigny, 21 Nov., 1575 (fn. 5) ], as to which she had her doubts: and they say that she had deemed herself cheated, having been promised that no arrangement should be made without her knowledge, and without at least the restitution of Calais.
“The King on the other hand sends M. de la Motte [Mothe Fénélon], who was but of late ordinary ambassador in England, in order that all needful opposition may be made to the said La Porte.”
27 Dec., 1575. Paris. Italian.
Vat. Lib.
Urb. Lat.
1045. f. 2.
466. News Letter.
… “On the 26th the English ambassador departed with good assurance as to peace with these rebels, being apprised by his Highness [Requesens] that he will make it, provided it be not to the disadvantage of the King, from whom we have as yet no declaration in writing as to this matter; and meanwhile they pause not in providing munitions of war for the equipment of vessels, of which there are already 20 large craft in being, besides small craft that are being made outside the city.”
31 Dec., 1575. Antwerp. Italian. Copy.


  • 1. Ascanio Sforza, Count of Santa Fiore, served successively Cosmo de' Medici, Pope Pius V and the Venetian Signory, died 1575.
  • 2. We first encounter this grant in the pages of Giraldus Cambrensis, Opera (Rolls Ser.), vol. i. pp. 61–2, who alleges that it was made by Hadrian IV. Capgrave, De Illustribus Henricis (Rolls Ser.), pp. 71–3, mentions its confirmation by Alexander III. The text of the bull as printed from Cotton MS. Claudius E. viii. f. 13b in Rymer's Fœdera (Rec. Comm.), vol. i. 1, p. 19, and by Baronius, Ann. Eccl. 1159, xxi, does not differ materially from that of Giraldus. A late transcript of the bull is preserved at the Vatican in Misc. Arm. i. vol. 17. f. 129. The grant seems to be presupposed in Alexander III's bulls to Henry II, and the Irish princes and bishops, printed in Rymer's Fœdera (Rec. Comm.), vol. i. 1, p. 45.
  • 3. As to Ormanetto's visit to England, see Mr. Martin Haile's Life of Cardinal Pole, 1911.
  • 4. See Mr. Martin Haile's An Elizabethan Cardinal, William Allen (1914), p. 128.
  • 5. Cf. Lettres de Catherine de Médicis [Docc. Inédd sur l'Hist. de France], vol. v. p. 165.