Venice: December 1553

Pages 446-451

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 5, 1534-1554. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1873.

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December 1553

Dec. 1. MS. St. Mark's Library, Cod. xxiv. Cl. x. Printed in v. iv. pp. 123–127. “Epistolarum Reginaldi Poli.” Dated Dillingen, 1st Decembre 1553. 836. Cardinal Pole to Queen Mary.
Received her Majesty's letter, written to him in Latin, but as it had been thrown into (conjectœ) a packet with other letters (the person who sent it from the Imperial Court making no mention of the Queen), Pole had no idea that any one of them was from her, till he had read the others, when he recognized her autograph signature on the last page; yet as it was written in Latin, and not in the vernacular, which Princes are wont to employ when writing or speaking to their subjects and “cum suis,” in which she had moreover written to him a few days previously, (fn. 1) he in truth could not but feel surprised. Should her Majesty have perchance acted thus supposing that so many years' exile had made him forget his native tongue, she really had good reason to do so, for he had found this to be the case with some of their countrymen, and it has very frequently happened to himself to be at a loss for certain words when making any continuous discourse (aliquid perpetuâ oratione); though whatever may have been the cause of this, nothing could be pleasanter or more desired by him than to read letters from her Majesty in whatever language. But as in her former letter, the Queen mentioned the danger in which she then found herself, and asked his advice about avoiding it, he thought fit to write the answer in his native tongue that he might be much more surely and distinctly understood, and sent it by a trusty messenger, that he might in the same tongue explain Pole's meaning, had it been at all obscure. Hopes that the letter and the messenger produced the necessary effect, and to her Majesty's Latin letter, will now in like manner reply in Latin, and supply any possible omissions in his former letter; nor does he desire any greater eloquence from the language, than that it may enable him to render the danger as visible to the Queen as it appears to himself, although by asking his opinion about avoiding it, she shows herself well acquainted with the fact, but is not this a proof that she does not know it entirely? Were a shipwrecked mariner to ask advice whether he should seize a plank or embark in a little skiff (parvam scapham), would this prove knowledge of the greatness of his danger? The Queen, or at least England, was assuredly wrecked when she threw herself overboard from St. Peter's ship, into the sea of this century (in mare hujus sœculi). It is true that this cannot be properly called shipwreck, as St. Peter's ship can neither go to pieces (frangi) nor founder. At present, Pole, and through him, God and the Apostolic See, show her the mode of escaping from the waves of the sea; which is, to re-enter the ship. If the Queen hesitates to do so, does she not show ignorance of the greatness of her danger? But she may be perfectly sure that those who remained out of the ark and were overwhelmed by the flood at the time of the Deluge, never incurred greater danger than those whose souls are now flooded by increasing cupidity and depraved opinions; whereas when they were joined to the body of the Church, before throwing themselves out of St. Peter's ship, it served them for an ark. Nor may the Queen suppose herself in less danger, because in her mind she never departed either from the ark or from her obedience to the Church, although materially consorting (etsi corpore cum iis versaretur) with those who plunged overboard. This might serve as an excuse before her accession to the Crown, but the accusation now becomes graver, as being saved herself she should save all others, just as the pilot of a ship puts his hand to the helm, but by delaying, hesitating, and consulting, they in the meanwhile all perish.
Has drawn a picture of the danger; her Majesty will judge whether it is the time to deliberate, or rather to act as ordained and prescribed her by divine and human counsel, for he sees that the Divine goodness has given her two advisers (consultrices) in this cause, the one divine law, the other that of nature. Both her letters (fn. 2) show that she had employed them, when she writes that having been educated (enutritam) in the old religion, she was determined to adhere to it until death, and that it had taught her that the title of Supreme Head of the Church, did not become a King, as she knew the powers, dignities, and prerogatives (officia) of a King and of a priest (sacerdotis) to be distinct, the one being a political body, of which the King is head, the other ecclesiastical, having a priest for its head. All this indeed she learned from the divine law, but when she added that the title of Supreme Head of the Church in her kingdom misbecame her sex, this is taught both by divine law and by the law of nature, as shown by St. Paul, who, when he forbids a woman to teach (fn. 3) in church, shows sufficiently how absurd and iniquitous it is for her to personify the supreme head in church, whose chief duty it is to imbue the people with doctrine; and as the same Apostle affirms that the wife of even one man alone cannot usurp authority over him, because it is contrary to the law of nature, so for a woman to call herself the head of that multitude which constitutes the Church, is forbidden both by divine as well as natural law. With the authority of these laws, what more can the Queen require? She has received from God the spirit of counsel; let her Majesty now entreat the spirit of fortitude necessary for the completion of the undertaking, which will infallibly ensue, should she have placed all her hope in Him from whom she received the kingdom, who said “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world,” and who is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, to whom he prays for her Majesty incessantly.
From Dillingen, 1st December 1553.
[Latin, 116 lines.]
Dec. 15. Parti Secrete, Consiglio X., File no. 18. 837. The Chiefs of the Ten to Giacomo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in England.
Are certain that by their letter of the 25th ult. about his withdrawing adroitly from the matter of religion in England, he will of his prudence have also understood their intention with regard to other negotiations about matters unconnected with the Signory; Having nevertheless heard it reported in certain quarters that an envoy (un homo, Renard?) has been sent to England by the most Christian King to persuade Edward Courtenay (al Sig. Cortoni) not to brook the introduction of a foreign King nor to wrong himself, the envoy promising him his most Christian Majesty's assistance, and employing his (Soranzo's) mediation with Courtenay; although they do not believe the matter to have passed thus, or that he (Soranzo) meddled with it; will acquaint him with what has been told them, in order that, should these suspicions proceed from any close and constant intercourse between him and Courtenay, or from other causes of which he will be able to judge, this warning may put him on his guard, so as by courtesy and address to prevent anyone from suspecting such a thing for the future on such occasions as may hereafter present themselves; and in this the Chiefs are sure he will succeed, by means of his prudence and dexterity.
Ayes, 28. Noes, 0. Neutrals, 0.
Dec. 21. Deliberazioni Senato (Secreta), v. lxviii. p. 183. 839. The Doge and Senate to the Venetian Bailo at Constantinople.
By letters from Brussels and France clown to the 3rd instant, are informed that the greater part of the Imperial and French troops have gone into winter quarters, but the cavalry on either side forage, and both Sovereigns are amassing considerable sums of. money.
By the letters from England hear that a marriage is being negotiated between the Queen and the Prince of Spain, the Emperor's son.
Ayes, 190. Noes, 0. Neutrals, 0.
Dec. 28. Lettere Secrete, Capi Consiglio X. File no. 5. 840. Motion made in the College in the presence of the Chiefs of the Ten.
Should the Imperial ambassador present himself to the College before the sitting of the Council of Ten, the justification (expurgatione) with regard to the matter of England to be made in such manner as shall seem fit to the prudence of the person appointed to perform this office.
Ayes, 16. Noes, 3. Neutrals, 0.
Dec. 29. Parti Secrete, Consiglio X., File no. 8. 841. The Chiefs of the Ten to the Venetian Ambassador with the Emperor.
By his letters addressed to them on the 10th instant have understood what the Bishop of Arras said to him by the Emperor's order concerning their ambassador in England, and what he prudently replied, for which they praise him greatly; and, with the Council of Ten and Junta, charge him immediately on receipt of the present letter to do his utmost to obtain audience of the Emperor, with whom they choose him in any case to confer, that he may explain to his Majesty in their name the regret and trouble caused them by hearing not only that the Emperor, but that others likewise, believed their ambassador in England to have performed any office detrimental to the interests of his Majesty or of the most Serene Prince his son, the Signory not having had so much as the slightest thought or idea of the sort, still less of giving him such a commission, as they are certain the Emperor, of his great wisdom, may easily comprehend and know clearly, should he but be pleased to consider on how many occasions for many years they have proved their constancy by sincerely preserving the good friendship formed with him, which they will also maintain for the future, both with his Majesty and with his said most Serene son. Having proved this frequently, they deem it superfluous to convince his Majesty; yet, although they cannot believe in the performance by their ambassador of the offices attributed to him by persons, perhaps for their own ends, they have nevertheless written to him in such form as becoming, it being their will and intention that neither by their own acts nor by those of any of their ministers may any suspicion be formed, contrary to the true good will and extreme observance borne by them towards the Emperor and his most Serene son.
The ambassador is in any case to perform this office with his Majesty and the Bishop of Arras, so that they may remain tranquil and well satisfied; and of the execution of this order he is to give notice to the Chiefs.
And be it carried that tomorrow morning, the Imperial ambassador resident here be sent for into the College, and after the withdrawal of all who are not members of this Council, a communication be made to him in conformity with the present letter, in order that he may perform the like office by letter with his Imperial Majesty.
Ayes, 26, No, 1. Neutrals, 2.
Dec. 29. Parti Secrete, Consiglio X, File no. 8. 842. The Chiefs of the Ten to Giacomo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in England.
Since their last, giving him notice of its having been reported that the French, by his means, sought to impede the marriage of that most Serene Queen to the most Serene Prince of Spain, they have received letters from the Signory's Ambassador with his Imperial Majesty, informing them that by the Emperor's order the Bishop of Arras had complained to him seriously, that he (Soranzo) did not scruple to perform evil offices against the Emperor and the most serene Prince, his son, and against the whole Spanish nation, and endeavoured to render it hateful to the English; expatiating greatly on this matter, although he professed to believe that he (Soranzo) had acted thus without the Signory's orders but from some opinion of his own. Will comprehend how much this has troubled them, it being their will that in matters which do not concern the State, their ambassadors are neither to interere nor lean more to one side than to the other, as much trouble and disturbance might ensue, to the Republic's detriment. They, therefore, with the Council of Ten and Junta, have chosen immediately to despatch the present missive, to order him entirely to abstain from similar offices, and not to take any action in that matter, associating both with the Imperial and French agents with such moderatiou (modestia) and prudence, and so uniformly, that the one side may not have cause to consider him more confidential and partial than the other; avoiding also such conversations as might create suspicion, owing to the casualties (occasioni) of the present time, so that they may not again have reason to repeat anything further to him about a matter of this quality; and of the receipt of the present letter, together with what he may have to say on the subject, he is to give notice to the Chiefs.
Ayes, 28. Noes, 0. Neutral 1.
Dec. 30. Deliberazioni Senato (Secreta), v. lxviii. p. 183, tergo. 843. The Doge and Senate to the Venetian Ambassador with the Emperor.
The Imperial Ambassador having had audience of them this morning, to acquaint them, by the Emperor's order, with what has been negotiated in England, and with the fair prospect of the Queen's marriage to his son the Prince of Spain, as by the enclosed writing, which he then presented, they answered in such terms as to make him convince his Majesty of their good-will towards him and his said most Serene son, for the fuller expression of which they charge their ambassador to wait on the Emperor and thank him for this his confidential communication, letting him know that whatever prosperity and felicity may happen to his Majesty and the most Serene Prince, the Signory is very greatly pleased and comforted by it, as becomes their sincere friendship and the extreme observance which they bear his Majesty.
Ayes, 189. Noes, 10. Neutrals, 11.


  • 1. Query, letter dated Westminster, 8th October.
  • 2. Dated London, 28th October, and 15th November 1553. (See Epistolarum Reginaldi Poli, vol. iv. pp. 119–123.)
  • 3. 1 Timothy ii. 12.