Rome: December 1572

Pages 71-80

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 1572

Vat. Arch.
Nunt. di
Vol. xv. f. 153.
123. [Ptolemy Galli,] Cardinal of Como to [Nicholas Ormanetto,] Bishop of Padua, Nuncio in Spain.
… “You should already have tidings at Court of the arrival of Cardinal Ursino [Orsino] at Paris, and of the alacrity and honour with which he was received in all places in the realm of France.”
5 Dec, 1572. Rome. Italian. Draft.
Vol. xvi. f. 216.
124. [Nicholas Ormanetto,] Bishop of Padua, Nuncio in Spain to [Ptolemy Galli,] Cardinal of Como.
… “I entered into the affairs of England, and we talked of what might be accomplished by the Catholic King merely with the army that he has in Flanders, once the affairs of the Low Countries were set to rights, with the help of the English Catholics, and a simultaneous rising of Ireland, or if action were taken jointly with France. And his Majesty acknowledged that it is true that it might be more easily done jointly, if it should please God that this match should be arranged, and by this new bond of blood this good friendship and understanding be established, bringing the Most Christian King into the League, whereby we might have great hope of that other enterprise as to which it is necessary to maintain complete silence, and keep it buried until the time for action be come.
“This I say for regard to the lives of the poor English and Irish Catholics. And as there is some inkling of it here, and the ambassador of the Venetian Signory has sounded me as to what I may know of it; therefore the less said of it, except with those with whom one needs must touch on it, the safer. Here I converse of no business with any soul alive but his Majesty, unless it be with the ambassador of the Venetian Signory touching the affairs of the League. I also keep silence as to whatever might prejudice affairs in the mind of the Signory; and observe the same reticence in converse with the ambassador of the Grand Duke [of Tuscany]. I likewise make sure of the reticence of him that writes the cipher: he is from Amelia in the State of the Church, and is a creature of Cardinal Borromeo; and I believe that the same reticence is practised by his secretary; but oftentimes men import imagination into their investigation of affairs.”
5 Dec, 1572. [Madrid.] Decipher. Italian.
Vat. Arch.
Nunt. di
vol. v. f. 303–11
125. [Antonio Maria] Salviati, [late] Bishop [of S. Papoul], Nuncio in France to [Ptolemy Galli,] Cardinal of Como.
“On the 2nd inst. the legate had of the King audience for business and on the 3rd of the Queen Mother.
“The legate thus began his discourse to the King…. ‘Your Majesty's accession to the League is necessary if you are to make headway against so potent an enemy as the Turk.’ …
“His Majesty evinced boundless zeal for operations against the Turk and all others that are aliens from the Christian faith, and by other means than such as the King of Spain employs, arming, as he has of late done, a hundred galleys against the Turk and sending with them his bastard brother: ‘Not so,’ quoth the King, ‘will I do when I undertake a similar operation; the forces I shall muster will be great, and I will adventure my proper person in their command; and sorry I am that I cannot do so now, embarrassed as I am by domestic troubles that occupy all my attention by reason of the grave disaffection of my people. In Languedoc, one of the principal provinces of the realm, there is most grievous disorder and disobedience; in La Rochelle, upon the sea-coast, utter rebellion, not without some suspicion of fomentation by the English and Germans, whose resentment of the executions done upon the Huguenots of France knows no bounds.’
“As to the match, of which the legate had spoken as matter of possible negotiation, between one of the daughters of the King of Spain and Monsieur, the King, though he deemed the girl yet of very tender age and Monsieur a youth, nevertheless intimated that it would be agreeable to him if the King of Spain were willing to give with the girl some State in dowry, of which he had not much hope, knowing the Spaniards to be ready enough to enter upon negotiations but averse to conclude them….
… “The legate, having craved the King's leave, made certain objections. He said the King need not hesitate to join the League because of the disturbances among his own people, as they did not appear to be such as that his Majesty might not readily succeed in disposing of them; for after all it is very well known that the Huguenots of France are without a chief or any to command them, and in Languedoc have no place of strength in their hands. As to La Rochelle, which is a fortress, it should be no difficult matter for his Majesty to possess himself of it, as his forces are far superior to those of the defenders. As to the English and the Germans the King, he said, had no readier means of securing himself against them than by uniting himself with the King of Spain, because the Germans and the English, who naturally are but afraid of being attacked, are confirmed in their opinion that this will not happen by the discord which they perceive between the Most Christian King and the Catholic King, and meanwhile make their minds easy, deeming it certain that as soon as the one King should take action against them the other would rush to arms in their defence. They daily make bold to molest, now the Most Christian King, now the Catholic King, which they would no longer dare to do, if there should supervene a League between them; for if the King should enter into league against the Turk, he would enter on the same terms as the rest, who besides being confederate against the Turk are also confederate for the defence of their States against all the world; and as there had been no explicit mention of the State that should be given in dowry to Monsieur, the legate again asked the King to say frankly upon what terms he would be prepared to make Monsieur's match. As to which the King let it be understood, in consonance with what the Queen had on divers occasions said to the nuncio, that he wanted a good State, and he named Milan and Naples, and would have the governance of that State given forthwith to Monsieur, and the daughter of the King of Spain to the Queen Mother to rear and retain in wardship until she should be of age to be united with Monsieur.
“As to the legate's assertion that the affairs of the realm of France would soon be adjusted, and that they seemed not to be in a plight that should prevent the King from joining the League, his Majesty replied that no one was better acquainted than he with the affairs of his kingdom and better able to say whether they were in a condition to enable him to employ his forces outside the realm, or no.
“Nevertheless the legate had as yet no mind to abandon the business; nay, he still continued insisting on the promising condition in which the affairs of France seemed to be, and laboured hard besides to prove to the King that it might be expected that sending troops out of the realm would incalculably promote the peace of the realm, it being manifest that foreign wars are most apt to allay civil strife….
“Finally the legate was fain to crave that at least his Majesty would be pleased for this year to join the League in name alone….
“Forthwith the King replied that it beseemed not a King of his quality, either for a year or for a day, to enter upon a war without wielding forces congruous with his grandeur….
“The legate, perceiving that time enough had been spent in this discussion… craved leave to withdraw, with liberty to resume the discussion with his Majesty on other occasions, and his Majesty promised ever to accord him a gracious hearing….
“As on the morrow the legate was to go to the Queen for her answer after dinner as he had gone to the King the day before, her Majesty sent for me in the morning, and told me in very plain terms that if the legate were to tarry there for a hundred years he would never get any other answer from the King than that which he had already had, so that she could have wished that he were gone, knowing that his being there was damaging to the King by reason of the suspicion conceived thereof by the other princes, and the fear in which all the King's subjects were plunged in apprehension of fresh executions….
“I forthwith apprised the legate of what the Queen had said to me; and the result was that when he came to the audience he brought with him your letter forbidding him in plain terms to quit the Court without further order; though the answer given him should expressly negative the main negotiations with which he is charged; and so upon the Queen talking to him in the same fashion as she had done with me, he showed her your letter, and thereupon her Majesty bade forthwith despatch a courier, as the legate is doing, and as otherwise he would have done for reasons which he himself will report to you more at large…
“As to the Queen of England, they say that a letter from her to the folk of La Rochelle in answer to one of theirs has been found, whereby it appears that they were entreating the Queen to undertake their protection. Now the Queen answers that she would gladly so do if they would make up their minds to be good subjects of the King and live under his obedience, and if to that end they should need her mediation and intercession with the King, they would find her most ready to accord it. I am not, however, as well assured of the truth of this as that the King's fleet has taken two ships that were on their way to La Rochelle, and that there is a negotiation afoot for the ransom of the nephew of the Count of Fiesco, who was taken of late by men of the place with that galley, wherein the Count shows himself not less loving than liberal.
“The English that were at Rouen and Calais and other parts of the kingdom on the seaboard for purposes of trade, being alarmed by the execution done upon the Huguenots, fled of late almost to a man, but now they have regained confidence and returned as before to their trafficking, trusting to the King's word.
“The nuncio of Spain writes me that he has done his office with his Catholic Majesty on behalf of the Queen of Scotland, and has found him very well disposed in favour of that Princess, so afflicted and harshly treated: howbeit he does not see that there is any sound basis of negotiation for an accord between his Catholic Majesty and the Queen of England by means of the Duke of Alva; as to which I have fully advised the ambassador of Scotland….
“In Flushing also, and in the rest of Zealand affairs are going well, for almost all the foreigners have departed, especially the English, who have been recalled by their Queen lest she should draw upon herself at once two such great princes, who might one day join their forces against her.
“It is true that the last advices, to wit, that the army of the Prince of Orange for lack of victuals had been reduced to eat barley; that the Spaniards under Count de Bura [Boussu ?] had captured the 36 ships, and that the English recalled by the Queen, had quitted Zealand, are not deemed true even by the ministers of the Catholic King.”
7 Dec., 1572. Paris. Italian.
Vat. Arch.
Nut. di
vol. v. ff. 290d–291d.
126. [Flavio,] Cardinal Orsino, Legate in France to Ptolemy Galli, Cardinal of Como.
After relating what he said to the King at his first audience as to the two principal matters of negotiation, the legate proceeds as follows:—“The answer I had from his Majesty as to everything was in the following sense: ‘That for no other end than the defence and propagation of the Catholic faith and the maintenance of obedience to the Holy Apostolic See he had for many a year braved the risk of losing not only his realm but his own life to boot, and therewith the lives of his most honoured mother and his most dear brothers; that prompted by the example of his ancestors, but much more by his natural instinct, witness the signal proof that he had already given of his animosity to the Huguenots, he would with yet more ardour address himself to every enterprise against the Turk or any other stranger to our faith; but that, sorry though he was in the last degree, he could not at present do so, his people being still in insurrection, particularly those of Languedoc and La Rochelle, not without some suspicion on his part that they were fomented by the English and Germans for the resentment they had conceived at the execution done upon the Huguenots in his kingdom; and that, while this most weighty obstacle existed, he had no occasion to answer as to the others which were perhaps of less account, nor yet as to the compensations proposed by his Holiness.
“‘That as to the match, there might be negotiation; and though it seemed to him that the girl was of too tender an age, and Monsieur, his brother, very young, he would nevertheless gladly consent if the Catholic King were induced to give for dowry one of his States; but of that he had no hope, knowing that the Spaniards were no less averse to conclude negotiations than ready to initiate them.’
“This answer was delivered in a manner that, as it were, excluded all hope; but, nevertheless, to the best of my knowledge and power, I rejoined that I did not think his Majesty should hesitate to enter the League by reason of the troubles of which he spoke in his realm, because, as to the insurgents in Languedoc, as they had not a single fortress or leader, and it was rather dread of punishment than devotion to their sect that kept them constant, and, above all, as they were without hope of foreign aid, his Majesty might be confident that he would speedily and without much exertion of force reduce them to obedience. As to La Rochelle, though it is a fortress, yet it seemed that his Majesty need have no doubt that he would soon be master of it, seeing that it also is without a chief, (fn. 1) and is a place not difficult to invest with the powerful forces at his Majesty's disposal; nor is there reasonable ground to suspect that it is likely to be fomented either by the English or by the Germans, in view of the league that his Majesty has with both; and the improbability that they would for such a purpose run the risk of a breach thereof with him.
“But if it seemed to him that he had reasonable ground for apprehension on that score, he had no readier method of assuring himself against it than an alliance with the Catholic King. These people dreaded nought else than to be attacked by their Majesties, nor could they live secure therefrom save while their Majesties were disunited. And so I besought his Majesty to gratify his Holiness' just desire, and in regard to the match definitively and frankly to announce the terms on which he would have it negotiated; to all which his Majesty replied as follows: ‘That he was the best judge of the position of affairs in his realm, and whether he could employ his forces outside his realm or no, and whether joining the League would be likely to result in involving him in trouble; but that apart from this, if he was to discuss the match, he, in accordance with what the Queen Mother had on divers occasions said to the nuncio, required a good State by way of dowry; and he mentioned Milan or Naples, the government thereof to be forthwith given to Monsieur, and the girl to be committed to the charge of the Queen Mother, to be brought up and had in ward until she should be of marriageable age.’
“You now see how the business developed; but yet exerting myself to the best of my knowledge and power, I replied, insisting still upon the improvement to be effected in the affairs of France, that his Majesty might hope, nay, be assured that sending troops out of the realm would be immensely conducive to its peace, since, besides the considerations aforesaid, it is manifest that foreign wars are the aptest means of allaying civil strife; that if his Majesty should resolve to join the League and send an army by land against the Turk, that same army would serve to keep the Germans in check, especially as it would be aided by the other forces of the League, and in particular by those of the Emperor, who, there was no doubt, would follow his Majesty's example as well in joining the League as in arraying a proper army by land; and, finally, if his Majesty deemed that he was not in a position at present to enter the League with great forces, he should be content to enter it for this year in such wise as should be most to his mind, to aid the common cause in the way, at least, of reputation; which he might do without the least mortification or chagrin, purposing to do in subsequent years what he should then deem possible and consonant with his dignity.”
7 Dec., 1572. Paris. Italian.
Vat. Lib.
Urb. Lat.
043. f. 183.
127. News Letter.
… “By letters from London they report that the Queen of England was sending an ambassador to his Majesty, but it is not known who he is.”
13 Dec., 1572. Augusta [Augsburg ?]. Spanish. Copy.
Vat. Arch.
Nunt. di
vol. v. f. 323.
128. [Flavio,] Cardinal Orsino, Legate in France to [Ptolemy Galli,] Cardinal of Como.
“Yesterday I received the letters of the nuncio of Spain, and seeing, as I opened them, many ciphers, I fell a hoping that there might be some means of retrieving the negotiation; but on turning them over I found matters only tending to its dissolution; and though I believe that the said nuncio has sent you the same intelligence by another way, I have, nevertheless, decided to transmit to you copies of the letters written to me and of the ciphers, as I do with this letter; wherein I have no more to tell you, but that things still happen of a kind to confirm me in the view which I set forth in the report which I sent you by the courier; nay, rather, I lapse into despair, seeing that the said advice from Spain leaves, as I have said, no way of resumption open. The Pope will therefore adopt such policy as shall seem best to him; but I would fain believe that his Holiness' policy has been throughout well settled. I purpose to take the first opportunity of replying to the nuncio, giving him a succinct account of the difficulties here, which I shall do with all the circumspection that I shall deem necessary.”
14 Dec., 1572. Paris. Italian.
Vat. Arch.
Nunt. Germ.
vol. lxix.
p. 282.
129. John [Delfino], Bishop of Torcello, Nuncio [in Germany] to [the Same].
… “I learn by letters from Speyer that in those Rhineland parts there was not only a most grievous dearth, but by reason of events in France great apprehension of some disturbance in Germany next year on account of religion; and that many false rumours are being circulated by the heretics to engender animosity and hatred against the Catholics. Not content with having said that the King of France had done that execution upon the Admiral and the rest of the Huguenots by the advice of the Emperor, they now aver that his Imperial Majesty is leagued with the said King of France and the King of Spain against them. Whereto they add that the Pope at the suggestion of the sacred College of Cardinals had granted to all slayers of heretics in Italy the goods of the said heretics by way of reward; but that this execution had been stifled by the princes of Italy; and though little heed is paid to these calumnies by people of judgment, nevertheless with the populace, more especially of these countries, which is by nature very suspicious, they have evil consequences. There has but now been murmuring in this Court at the reward that his Holiness is reported to have given to him that discharged the arquebus at the Admiral; nor by what I understand was his Imperial Majesty much pleased by that demonstration.”
15 Dec., 1572. Vienna. Italian. Copy.
Vat. Arch.
Nunt. di
vol. xvi. f. 232.
130. [Nicholas Ormanetto,] Bishop of Padua, Nuncio in Spain to Ptolemy Galli, Cardinal of Como.
…“As to English affairs, I learned in a brief conversation on this subject that his Majesty deemed the design would be facilitated if he and France concurred therein; and, moreover, that, if they had the aid of the English Catholics, as they would have, if they were agreed about the Queen of Scotland, it would be accomplished with yet greater facility and to more lasting purpose, since the English abhor a foreign and especially a French prince.
“So, supposing M. d'Anjou to be married to a daughter of his Catholic Majesty, with one of his Majesty's States for dowry, and the design upon England to be carried out jointly for the behoof of the Queen of Scotland, success might be achieved without difficulty, because it would be in the cause of a person neutral and agreeable to all, and especially to the French by reason of the many ties that unite this Queen with the French; and moreover this King has always shown a leaning towards this lady; and if some good and definitive settlement should be reached of Flemish and French affairs, the forces would be in readiness, to wit, the Duke of Alva's army in Flanders, and that which is now in France for the reduction of La Rochelle, and for opposing the insurrections that the heretics might make in those parts. Besides which there are some chieftains of Ireland who offer to wrest that realm from the Queen of England with the help of but 4,000 foot and 500 horse, so that it would be possible to move on every side at one and the same time.”
15 Dec., 1572. [Madrid.] Decipher. Italian.
Vat. Arch.
Nunt. di
vol. v. f. 333d.
131. [Antonio Maria] Salviati, [late] Bishop [of S. Papoul], Nuncio in France to [the Same].
…“Count de Res [Retz] is returning to Germany to the Palatine and Casimir, upon whom their Majesties desire to be able to reckon, if possible, for the weal and peace of this realm. The French suspect more than ever that the Duke of Alva, in sparing no pains to make the accord with the Queen of England, has aimed no less at injuring France than at restoring tranquillity in Flanders; nevertheless the French are not mistrustful of the Queen of England, though they are advised that the Duke of Alva has secured the restoration of the wonted traffic between Flanders and England.”
16 Dec., 1572. Paris. Italian.
f. 338.
132. The Same to [the Same].
Notifying advices of events in Flanders to the following effect:—
“The Duke of Alva was still at Nymegen; his son, Don Frederic, marching with his army towards Amsterdam, took by storm a town called Narden, which he sacked and burned, massacring the soldiers and citizens and all that were there; which severity caused two other towns of importance, the one called Harlem in the bishopric of Holland and the other Ardeiden [sic Leyden] to surrender. (fn. 2) They say that the Prince of Orange was retreating with some rebels to Dordrecht, and that they talked of going to England or Germany. They also write that M. de Beauvois, Governor of Middelburg, was in parley with the men of Flushing and that there was good hope of an accord.”
17 Dec., 1572. Paris. Italian.
Vat. Arch.
Nunt. di
vol. v. f. 336.
f. 339.
133. [Flavio,] Cardinal Orsino, Legate in France to [Ptolemy Galli,] Cardinal of Como.
Enclosing divers letters.
17 December, 1572. Paris. Italian.

“The substance of what the nuncio of Spain writes me at great length in two letters in cipher is as follows:—In the first he says that when of late by order of the Pope he proposed to the Catholic King the two arrangements, to wit: 1, that of the conquest of England; and 2, that of the assignment of the County of Burgundy to the daughter in dowry, and by way of supplementary arrangement, of La Bresse, his Majesty replied that these were matters of the utmost importance, and that he would give them careful consideration; but afterwards the nuncio learned through good channels that neither of the said arrangements would be accepted by his Majesty.
“In the second letter he adds that his Majesty had replied that he had every reason to deem it unmeet for him to answer as to the two said arrangements, or to enter upon any negotiation as to the marriage, particularly as the first suggestion had come from the Pope, unless from the side of France there should come some express manifestation of desire therefor, and concurrently request thereof be made to his Majesty, who would then fail not to make such answer as should be reasonable.”
Decipher. Italian.
f. 348.
134. The Same to the Same.
…“The Governor of Calais has despatched one of his nephews in haste to the King to apprise him of the preparations that the Queen of England is making; and I have it from a good source that he reports that the Queen of England has armed some ships and sent them towards Bordeaux; and that as to her own frontiers she has taken such measures as may enable her to defend herself but not to take the offensive. The King's proposal that the Queen should stand godmother [to the Princess] is accepted by the Queen, who will send some one to be present at the baptism; and it is evident that she is apprehensive lest the King should resume negotiations for a union with the King of Spain.”
22 Dec., 1572. Paris. Italian.
Vat. Arch.
Nunt. di
vol. v. f. 355d.
135. [Flavio,] Cardinal Orsino, Legate in France to [Ptolemy Galli,] Cardinal of Como.
… “M. Cam, Grand Master of the Horse to the Empress, has come to hold the King's daughter at baptism. He is entertained very honourably and made so much at home that he could desire no more. For the discharge of this office he awaits only the arrival of him that the Queen of England is to send to the said baptism, who, however, they say, will not be present at the actual baptizing because he is not minded to enter the church or assist at ecclesiastical ceremonies, but he will ask the Queen of Navarre to be pleased in this matter to oblige her patroness, the Queen of England.
“We expect the Cardinal of Lorraine on the 12th or 15th of next month, it being already his purpose to come to Court before he go to his house or church or elsewhere.
“There is no change in the attitude of La Rochelle, where, as men worthy of credence report, the main source of the evil is the greediness of eight or ten that are of more authority than the rest, who in all the past wars have ever been busy enough plundering, and found it so much to their taste that they are now on the look-out for fresh garboils wherein to find more occasion than ever to play the same game: nor, to satisfy their greediness, is there any omission to send them from hence very handsome offers.
“Lanua [La Noue] is at present at La Rochelle, and though some suspect that he may be induced to declare against the King, nevertheless on the other hand I see that he has established such a negotiation with the King that I am persuaded that Abbot Guadagno will soon return thither on that errand. In La Rochelle there are at least 2,000 stout infantry and 300 Huguenot ministers, who took refuge there while they knew not where else to be in security.
“The ambassadors sent of late from La Rochelle to England arrived at the Queen's Court while M. de la Movisiera [Mauvissière] was there, sent by the King to invite the Queen to the baptism. They were introduced and supported as far as possible by Montgomery, but to no purpose as regards eliciting from the Queen a decision to lend them countenance, notwithstanding that she takes every opportunity of daily evincing more and more distress on account of the slaughter of the Huguenots of France.”
28 Dec., 1572. Paris. Italian.


  • 1. Cf. p. 73 supra.
  • 2. The surrender was not accepted. See Corresp. de Granvelle (Acad. Roy. de Belgique), vol. iv. pp. 542, 548.