Simancas
January 1561

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Institute of Historical Research

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Martin A. S. Hume (editor)

Year published

1892

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178-180

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'Simancas: January 1561', Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 1: 1558-1567 (1892), pp. 178-180. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=86725 Date accessed: 30 September 2014.


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January 1561

1561. 22 Jan. 122. The Same to the Same.
Since writing the enclosed letter Henry Sidney, who is the brother-in-law of Lord Robert, came to see me. He is a sensible man and better behaved than any of the courtiers. He began by beating about the bush very widely, but at last came to his brother-in-law's affairs and said that as the matter was now public property, and I knew how much inclined the Queen was to the marriage, he wondered that I had not suggested to your Majesty this opportunity for gaining over Lord Robert by extending a hand to him now, and he would thereafter serve and obey your Majesty like one of your own vassals, and a great deal more to the same effect. I told him that what I had so far heard of this matter was of such a character that I had hardly ventured to write two lines to your Majesty about it, nor had cither the Queen or Lord Robert ever said a word to me that I could write. I said, moreover, that your Majesty had no more need to gain over the kings of England than they to gain over your Majesty, although, in matters of courtesy to you friends your Majesty always exceeded, but in this affair your Majesty had no means of guessing the thoughts of the Queen, and she had not hitherto taken the advice you had given her, so that there was no opportunity of offering advice again. We discussed this for some time and he entirely agreed with everything I said, being well informed of what had happened in the past, unblinded by prejudice and a man who sees things in their proper light. He said that if I was satisfied about the death of Robert's wife, he saw no other reason why I should hesitate to write the purport of this conversation to your Majesty, as, after all, although it was a love affair yet the object of it was marriage, and that there was nothing illicit about it or such as could not be set right by your Majesty's authority. As regards the death of the wife, he was certain that it was accidental, and he had never been able to learn otherwise, although he had inquired with great care and knew that public opinion held to the contrary. I told him if what he said were true the evil was less, for, if murder had been committed, God would never help nor fail to punish so abominable a crime, whatever men might do to mend it but that it would be difficult for Lord Robert to make things appear as he represented them. He answered it was quite true that no one believed it, and that even preachers in the pulpits discoursed on the matter in a way that was prejudicial to the honour and interests of the Queen which had prevented her from taking steps to remedy the religious disorders of the country and reduce it to a better condition, in which task Lord Robert would help her. I replied that although your Majesty would be very glad to see religion restored in the country and elsewhere, this was a matter which the Queen ought not to mix up with temporal affairs but treat it simply as a question between herself and her God to be diligently undertaken by her whether she was married or single, if she were a Christian at all. He agreed with this also, and although he is not at all well informed on religious questions, he did not fail to admit that the state of the country was very bad, and a way must be found to mend it. He told me a number of things in this respect which grieved me and endeavoured to persuade me with solemn oaths that the Queen and Lord Robert were determined to restore religion by means of a general Concilio. He then pressed me still further to write to your Majesty and forward the business so that Lord Robert should receive the boon from your Majesty's hands. I said he knew what happened with his wife in the matter of the Archduke when the Queen had deceived both of us, and that I could not venture to write unless the Queen authorised me to do so, and told me what to say in which case it would be my duty. He said the Queen would not mention the matter to me unless I began the conversation, but that I might be sure that she desired nothing more than the countenance of your Majesty to conclude the match, and that Lord Robert himself would come to me and beg me to write to your Majesty what I heard from him and assure you of his desire to serve you at all times and in all things to the full extent of his means and abilities, and more especially regarding religion, as is his duty. I told him again there was no need to bring the religious question into these transactions, and that if Lord Robert wanted to open his heart on this point to your Majesty I did not prevent him, but at the same time, although it was just and necessary that he should try to relieve his conscience, yet, if he wished to negotiate with your Majesty and expected to be believed and held as an honest man I thought it improper that he should bring in the question of religion at all. He (Sidnev) also asked me whether I thought that the Queen should send a person of rank to treat of this matter with your Majesty and satisfy you as to any points in which your Majesty desired satisfaction. The antecedents of the present ambassador were such that the Queen could not trust him in this business and particularly as regarded religion as he is a very great heretic. I said she could do as she thought best, but we would consider the matter, and I would tell Lord Robert my opinion when I had heard what he had to say. I imagine that Sidney himself is desirous of going so as to take the opportunity of seeing the Countess de Feria who is his niece. We parted with the understanding that they would both come and see me in a few days.
The above is exactly what passed, and for some days I had suspected that the Queen had some such idea, but as the business is altogether such a bad one, I did not venture to broach the subject to them, and simply remained quiet and gave the answers I have related. I thought best moreover to listen to what they said and to advise your Majesty thereof, so as not to arouse any suspicion in their minds, or perchance to cause them to take some bad course in their business. It is for your Majesty to decide, but I have no doubt that if there is any way to cure the bad spirit of the Queen, both as regards religion and your Majesty's interests, it is by means of this marriage, at least whilst her desire for it lasts. I am also sure that, if your Majesty's support fail her, your Majesty could easily turn her out of her kingdom by means of her own subjects. I well know the state of this affair and the feeling of the people, and I am certain that if she do not obtain your Majesty's consent she will not dare to publish the match, and it is possible that if she finds herself unable to obtain your Majesty's favour, she may throw herself to the bad and satisfy her desires by which she is governed to an extent that would be a grievous fault in a person of any condition, much more in a woman of her rank. Things have reached such a pitch that her chamberlain has left her, and Axele of the Privy Chamber (Yaxley?) is in prison for having babbled ; indeed there is not a man who has not some tale to tell. Cecil is he who most opposed the business, but he has given way in exchange for the offices held by Treasurer Parry who died recently of sheer grief. I must not omit to say also that the common opinion, confirmed by certain physicians, is that this woman is unhealthy, and it is believed certain that she will not have children, although there is no lack of people who say she has already had some, but of this I have seen no trace and do not believe it. This being the state of things, perhaps some step may be taken in your Majesty's interests towards declaring as successor of the Queen, after her death, whoever may be most desirable for your Majesty.
I pray your Majesty to order an answer to be sent to me quickly, so that I may know how I am to reply in this important affair.— Endorsed, 22nd January 1561.