Venice
February 1581

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Institute of Historical Research

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Horatio F. Brown (editor)

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1894

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2-4

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'Venice: February 1581', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 8: 1581-1591 (1894), pp. 2-4. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=95173 Date accessed: 21 October 2014.


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February 1581

Feb. 11. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 5. Lorenzo Priuli, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The English Embassy is still suspended. Monsieur de La Fin, however, is expected to arrive with definite orders from Monsieur. Monsieur has already sent his Secretary Marchaumont to the Queen of England.
In Bles (Blois), 11th February 1581.
[Italian.]
Feb. 23, Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 6. Lorenzo Priuli, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Abbé dal Bene returned three days ago from the Duke of Alençon, and came to see me. He said that Monsieur, having heard that the Italian Princes accused him of actions hostile to the interests of France, Italy, and religion, such as the conclusion of peace in France, the expedition into Flanders, and the projected marriage with the Queen of England, had resolved to send the Abbé on a mission to his Holiness to justify his conduct. After Rome the Abbé was to visit Venice for a like purpose, but he desired first to know how his visit would be taken. As to the pacification of France Monsieur held himself justified, because although the Huguenots had retired to their forts there was no hope of finishing the war in one year nor yet in ten, and their relations with Germany were so close that even if they were crushed in France they would instantly receive vigorous support from that quarter.
On the question of Flanders matters were concluded. The Procurators of the States had administered the oath to Monsieur as Count of Flanders, and three reasons had forbidden him to refuse that title. The first was the interests of France which required a counterbalance to the Spanish power in those parts. The second was founded in justice towards the Flemish, who had freed themselves from Spain and voluntarily elected Monsieur, which act constituted the soundest and most legitimate title that a ruler could have (and esser il più vero et più legitimo titolo di chi domina). The third reason was the claims of the French Crown to the County of Flanders, which could not be barred by the renunciation made by Francis I. when in prison.
As to the question of his marriage with the Queen of England; here, again, the desire to counterbalance Spain was the cause of his action; and no Prince need be shocked if he took a heretic to wife, for he would do it for a good end, and with a view to assist rather than to depress the cause of the Catholic religion, and with the hope of bettering the position of that religion in England. He begged me to communicate all this to your Serenity.
The Abbé then proceeded to tell me on behalf of Monsieur that he was informed that the Catholic King was in close relations with the Prince of Scotland, and intended to offer him one of the Infantas for wife, and to make use of him in a war on the Queen of England; that preparations for a great fleet are going on in Spain; at Corunna they are baking biscuits in large quantities, and preparing for the victualling of forty thousand men. This armament is a threat not only to France but also to Venice, who alone among Italian Princes is capable of resisting Spain, and towards whom Spain is ill-affected. Our conversation lasted an hour.
In Bles (Blois), 23rd February 1581 .
[Italian.]
Feb. 24. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 7. Lorenzo Priuli, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Mons. de Lansac and the Secretary Pinard left this place on Monday last, the 20th, for Paris, to join their colleagues and to start for England as soon as possible. There are seven persons besides Mons. de Marchaumont, who has gone on ahead, namely, the Conte de Soissons, brother of the Prince of Condé, the Marshal de Cossé, Secretary Pinard, Mons. de Lansac, Mons. de la Motte Fénélon, Mons. de Cariegia, Governor of Rohan, Mons. de Movison, one of the Presidents of the Parliament of Paris, and they have in their suite a great number of gentlemen. Rumour runs that their mission is to conclude, if possible, the marriage of Monsieur with the Queen of England and to establish friendly relations between the two kingdoms. It is certain that this is the object of the Embassy, but its success is still very doubtful. The Queen of England shows a disposition towards this match, so do her Ministers, and so too, the intimates of Monsieur, who talk of it as a thing accomplished; but the Ministers of the King of France say that there are many points to be settled, and do not treat the matter so lightly. Cardinal Birago told me a few days ago that the King could not do less than send this Embassy, to please his brother and the Queen of England, as he did not desire that they should say that the negotiations fell through by his fault; but every one at Court has little hope and little desire that it should succeed; although the Queen-Mother speaks of it as a fact almost accomplished, and shows, in appearance, at least that she is well pleased, and talks of going herself to England with her son, as indeed, she has talked before. Parliament has met in England, and, after the death of Lord Robert, of which we had notice some days ago, the marriage finds fewer opponents in the Parliament of that country, there are many gentlemen who have demanded the free exercise of the Catholic religion; and this question of religion caused the Queen much anxiety and led her to expect disturbances, all the more so as a rising was looked for in Scotland, where the King had put the Earl of Morton to death, as head of the rebels and creature of the Queen, with whom he was accused of plotting to entice the King to the frontier and to betray him to the English. The execution of the Earl of Morton was so swift that the Queen's messengers who had been sent to procure his release, found him already dead. All of which gives great trouble to the Queen, not only for having lost so important an adherent, but because it shows that the King of Scotland is tending towards the Catholic religion. The partizans of England and of Monsieur declare that this is the work of the Spaniards, carried out by Mons. d'Obigni (Daubigny) a Catholic, and, though born of a Scotch father, yet a Frenchman and dependent of the house of Guise; who, although he had only been in Scotland a short time, penetrated so deeply in the good graces of the King, whose near relation he is, that he overthrew the Earl of Morton who had ruled the King till then. However that may be there is news that the King is, or is about to become a Catholic, a step which would cause grave anxiety to the Queen of England.
The pacification of France is advancing. Chaors and Montaigu have been surrendered. The reluctance of the King to assist Monsieur, his brother, in the Flanders affairs, causes Monsieur to wish frequently to let all negotiations fall through; but he persists because he knows that the pacification of France is a necessary step to his Flanders expedition.
In Flanders matters move coldly, The faction of the malcontents wish to direct affairs as they choose, to the small satisfaction of the Prince of Parma. Money is scarce. The country eaten up with soldiery. The reports of large sums sent from France and Italy are false.
Strozzi, who has been here only two days, is said to have gone to Tours to speak with the agent of Don Antonio. I do not know what news this agent brings, but they say that Don Antonio is alive and in Portugal.
In Bles (Blois), 24th February 1581.
[Italian.]