Venice: May 1537

Pages 61-63

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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May 1537

May? MS. St. Mark's Library. Cod. xxiv. Cl. x. No date. Printed in vol. ii pp. 41–45. “Epistolarum Reginaldi Pole.” 145. Cardinal Pole to Cardinal Erardo Della Marck, Cardinal Bishop of Liège.
Being unable to have an interview with the Cardinal of Liège, and as the Pope orders him to follow the Cardinal's advice, sends the Bishop of Verona [Matteo Giberti] to state the case, which could not be in better hands, as Giberti is alike prudent and pious, and will bring back the required information. Regrets being unable to express his gratitude to the Cardinal verbally. Will always remain heartily grateful to him, and prays the Cardinal to extend his courtesy to the Bishop of Verona likewise; and should he present him to the Queen [Maria of Hungary], would be much gratified, but refers himself to the Cardinal's judgment.
Cambrai? May 1537?
[Latin, 36 lines.]
May 14. Deliberazioni Senato (Secreta), v. lviii. p. 15. 146. The Doge and Senate to the Bailo and Ambassador at Constantinople.
The Pope seems intent on the convocation of the Council, to make provision against the Lutheran heresies, and he apparently wishes it to be held at Mantua, although the Duke of Mantua says that city is not suited to the purpose, nor capable of holding so great a number of persons as usually attend such a meeting, on which account it appears that the matter will be procrastinated.
Is to communicate this likewise to the Magnificos the Bashaws.
Ayes, 162. Noes, 6. Neutrals, 7.
May 18? MS. St. Mark's Library. Cod. xxiv., Cl. x. No date. Printed in vol. 2. pp. 46–57. “Epistolarum Reginaldi Poll.” 147. Cardinal Pole to Pope Paul Iii.
Has received the Pope's letter, anticipating as it were the difficulty of proceeding. Affairs in England offering neither hope nor opportunity, his Holiness orders him to Mantua, where the Council will be held; and on calculating the time, conjectures that the Pope will be there long before this letter is delivered to him. (fn. 1) Wishes to obey promptly, but the road is not safe, and there are reasons which would dissuade him from to speedy a return, and indeed detain him for some time; and as these reasons connect themselves with a cause which the Pope has so much at heart, will state them, and then do what his Holiness shall please.
Is in the midst of all sorts of perils, although invested, or perhaps because invested, with the office of Cardinal Legate. On arriving in Paris hoped to confer with the King, who was not far distant. The King caused him to be received honourably in Paris, but sent him word he could not treat directly with him, or even allow him to remain in France, being compelled to act thus by the King of England (sed precibus ejus coactum, qui mihi, et universo ordini nostro, atque legationis causæ esset inimicissimus), for whom, by reason of the times, he is obliged to have great consideration. Then proceeded immediately to Flanders, and was courteously received by the Bishop of Cambrai, but having sent one of his attendants with letters to the Bishop of Liège, who was at the Court of the Governess of the Low Countries, the messenger was captured by the Governor of Valenciennes under pretext of military movements, but in reality because the Ambassador of the King of England had a few days previously requested the Governess [Maria, Queen Dowager of Hungary, sister of Charles V.], not only to forbid him and his attendants to remain in the Low Countries, but also to prevent their passage through them on their way to Germany. Thought it beneath his dignity to travel in disguise, as was also proposed to him, and accepted the offer of the Bishop of Cambrai to send his own archdeacon, a learned and trustworthy man, to the Bishop of Liège, with his [the Cardinal's] demands. After eleven days he was answered that the Queen [Maria of Hungary] would send a person to escort him to Liège, where the Bishop would give him whatever security he could desire, but the escort has not yet arrived.
This perilous condition is yet more serious, considering the precedent thus afforded by the dread of the Princes of Christendom to displease the King of England (ne inimico nostri ordinis displicerent). Is apprehensive, not only of being compelled to withdraw from France, and excluded from Flanders, but of being put to death, the King of England, through his Ambassador, having requested the King of France to place him in his hands. The King of France did not consent to so open a violation of the law of nations, but many persons urged him to quit France as soon as possible. Believes himself to be safe in France, though he might perhaps fear, lest for the gratification of the King of England, who seems to seek his life above all things (qui nihil magis quam meum sanguinem appetere videtur), some attack may be made upon him.
These considerations well nigh compel him to remove to a distance immediately, especially as the insurrection (fn. 2) is quelled, many persons being executed, and the King having seized all the ringleaders. This intelligence reached him at Lyons, but a report then circulated that to satisfy the population in some degree, the King would convoke a Council, in which to discuss the religious matters which had instigated the rebellion, it being indeed said, that the day of St. John the Baptist, 24th June, had been appointed for this Council. This report, however, was very soon contradicted, nor can anything but evil be expected. These circumstances would suggest a speedy return, but excessive haste should be avoided, lest it appear that he was sent by the Pope without good reason. There was good cause so long as the insurrection lasted, but since its suppression there is no motive for remaining, the more as the dangers are many, and he is the only Cardinal of whom the Pope could avail himself, should he choose to negotiate with England. These considerations may induce the Pope to recall him.
Will now assign reasons why he should remain still at his post. First of all, if the Pope thought fit to subject himself to expense and anxiety for this mission, it seems that he ought to leave the legate so long as there be hope of any little advantage, because his departure would dishearten the Catholics. In addition to this, it is well to be always on the watch for any opportunity to regain England, lest the tenets of her present generation be inherited by the coming one (ut filiis eorum qui nunc vivunt, ejusmodi opiniones prodantur). The opportunity, therefore, must be taken, to which end it is desirable that a person known to the English, of irreproachable character, and upright and firm in his religious opinions, (cujus existimatio nunquam apud eos sit lœsa, rectaque semper, et constans de religione opinio), should remain well nigh always before them, to take advantage of any opportunity; but how can this be done if the Legate has no place in which to remain, and the opportunities seem irrecoverably lost? He might at least repair to the territory of Liège, where there is no lack of cities and castles in which he might be safe. Opportunities will perhaps not be wanting, as may be inferred from this identical insurrection, whose leaders were first lured by fair promises and then crushed; the people, therefore, cannot but be malcontent, and will again rebel the moment they can. Opportunities will therefore occur, and it would seem well to remain on the watch for them; but in the meanwhile, the King [of England], his most powerful and bitter enemy, is endeavouring to get possession of him, dead or alive, and he boasts that for this purpose he will spend as much as one hundred thousand pounds sterling (centum enim aureorum Anglicorum millia se profusurum jactat (fn. 3) ut me in sua potestate vel vivum vel mortuum habeat). Who, therefore, will save him from the perilous power of this man? God! on whom no one ever relied in vain; and good example, as afforded by the Bishop of Verona [Matteo Giberti], given him by the Pope as a companion on his journey and partaker of his labours, and who is such a mirror of fortitude, that, seeing him so firm in the midst of so many dangers, Pole is encouraged to remain.
Has thus stated the arguments in favour of return or delay, for the Pope to decide, and the Legate will most readily obey.
Cambrai, 18th May 1537 ?
[Latin, 236 lines.]


  • 1. Paul III. subsequently renounced the idea of holding the Council at Mantua, and suspended it until the 1st of November 1537. (See Sarpi's History of the Council of Trent.)
  • 2. The Northern insurrection in England.
  • 3. In the printed copy, vol. ii. p. 55, “jactant.”