Venice
December 1581

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Institute of Historical Research

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Horatio F. Brown (editor)

Year published

1894

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22-26

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'Venice: December 1581', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 8: 1581-1591 (1894), pp. 22-26. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=95183 Date accessed: 16 April 2014. Add to my bookshelf


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December 1581

Dec. 1. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 56. Lorenzo Priuli, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Monsieur's journey to England was unexpected, but four days ago the still more unexpected news arrived that the marriage of is Highness and the Queen was agreed on, that they had given their hand one to the other, or, as they say here, were affianced (o come dicono qui fianzato). Although this news comes only on the authority of a servant of the Queen-Mother, without confirmation from the English Ambassador, yet it is so implicitly credited that their Majesties talk openly of it as a certainty, and outwardly show content. The King on being congratulated the other day, replied that he was sure the Catholic King would not feel such pleasure. In short, the point on which all seem to be in accord is this, that on the 22nd of last month, in the presence of many nobles the Queen and Monsieur exchanged rings and kisses; but no one knows what they said. The Ministers, however, express doubts, and the Ambassador of England says he has no news from his Queen.
The representatives of the various Flemish provinces are in England in order to conclude their negotiations, and to take his Highness into Flanders.
Paris, 1st December 1581.
[Italian.]
Dec. 5. Copy of Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 57. Alberto Badoer, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
Don Bernardino de Mendoza writes from England that Alençon has arrived, and has sent one of his suite back to France, to announce that his marriage is concluded. But the English deny it.
Prague, 5th December 1581.
[Italian.]
Dec. 11. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 58. Matheo Zane, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The news that Alençon has gone to England causes anxiety here. They are afraid that the marriage of his Highness to the Queen will be announced at last, or that at least an open alliance between France and England against Spain will be concluded, especially as two Ambassadors from the Queen have gone to France.
Madrid, 11th December 1581.
[Italian.]
Dec. 12. Copy of Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 59. Alberto Badoer, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
Mendoza writes that the Queen of England has promised a million in gold to Alençon if he would give Boulogne-sur-Mere and Calais as securities. But this offer is expected to come to nothing.
Prague, 12th December 1581.
[Italian.]
Dec. 14. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 60. Lorenzo Priuli, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The information that the Queen and Monsieur had exchanged rings is confirmed; but in spite of this doubts still remain. A person of quality told one that the Queen-Mother had declared that the Queen of England had been very depressed for two days, and that she was afraid that something had happened between her and Monsieur, though matters were made straight subsequently and the decision of Parliament, which had already met for this purpose, was awaited. The same person also reported, the following conversation between the Queen and Monsieur, to whom the Queen said, “Monsieur, I confess that my obligation towards you is great, as I have learned how great is the affection you bear me, which you have made all the more manifest by visiting my kingdom, not once but twice, in so intimate and confiding a way. This has laid me under such obligations towards you that I have resolved to promise myself in marriage to you, as I have done and would do again, but I ought to say what is in my mind,, and causes me much trouble, and, that is my doubt that this resolve, which I took in order to give you the greatest sign of affection that I could, may end in your greed damage by making the world at large hostile to you, for you are brother to the King of France, who is childless, and I am so advanced in years that you can hardly hope to have a child by me, and my doctors warn me that if I have a child I shall die in child bed, and that is out of the question. This apart I may live yet so many years that if after my death you married again you might not be able to beget children. I am therefore afraid of bringing an injury upon you, your family, and the Crown of France. I have thought it right to say all this, and I beg you to consider it well, whether you would not do better to marry someone by whom you could have children, being however, absolutely sure of two things, one is that if you wish it I am always ready to keep my promise to you; the second is that if you should have any doubt lest, if the marriage did not take place, I should not support your designs with all my might, I assure you, and will convince you by all means in my power, that you may count on me and my kingdom as if you had been my husband.”
My informant reported this conversation to the Queen-Mother. It is said that the English Queen's suspicions were roused by the arrival of Secretary Pinard; who is said to have brought with him a treaty of marriage between Monsieur and the Princess of Lorain, and if that were so it is easy to imagine that this gave rise to her remarks. But it is very difficult to know the truth as neither their Majesties nor their Ministers are able to make up their minds; nor do they understand the conduct of Monsieur, who is acting very secretly and perhaps falsely. Monsieur is arranging for his journey into Flanders, and one of his gentlemen writes to say that he finds in England so ready a support for his designs, that he has no need to go a begging in France. He sent some days ago more than two thousand soldiers into Flanders, openly embarked at Dover and landed at Dunkerque.
Paris, 14th December 1581.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Dec. 18. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 61. Matheo Zane, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
While they were still in doubt here as to the upshot of Alençon's journey to England, whether the marriage would take effect or whether an alliance hostile to his Catholic Majesty would be concluded, letters arrived from France with the news that the Duke had found occasion to say that the marriage was already agreed on. This caused anxiety here. Despatches have arrived from Don Bernardino de Mendoza, who represents Spain in England, relating the whole affair. He says that at first the Queen did her best to prevent Alençon from coming to see her. She sent to offer him a large sum in Angles for his needs. But his Highness would not give up his journey, as he was as anxious for the marriage as the Queen was for an alliance with the Grown of France. While the Queen and Alençon were walking in the royal palace the French Ambassador was introduced, and they began to discuss the question of completing the marriage. The Queen took occasion to say that she never intended any other than his Highness to be her husband, in token whereof she embraced him and gave him a ring, and he another to her. Hence the universal rumour that the marriage will be concluded. But the completion of this matter rests with the Parliament which is convoked for the 5th of this month; and nothing will be decided there unless it be for the good of the kingdom. This will serve to free the Queen, who, they say, is engaged to others. At the same time they will raise the question of an alliance with France; but neither will this succeed, for Alençon will be disgusted by the rupture of the treaty of marriage. Mean-time, on behalf of his Majesty, active steps are being taken to disturb these negotiations, and also that Don Antonio should not find facilities for raising ships, nor for disposing of his booty. Similar requests have been made in France, but, as yet, without effect. The King is afraid lest Don Antonio should go to the Azores, and is preparing an armament for the reduction of those islands.
Madrid, 18th December 1581.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Dec. 28. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 62. Lorenzo Priuli, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Queen of England, not finding in her Parliament that disposition for the match which she pretended to desire, has adjourned the whole question to next month. Meantime the clergy of that religion have spoken to her Majesty, clearly showing her that by the marriage she will create a dangerous division in her kingdom, as his Highness would make public profession of his religion, and perform its services with exactitude. Her Ministers have also informed her that even if the question of religion could be arranged, they did not see that her Majesty in marrying Monsieur should also marry his quarrel with the King of Spain, (non vedono come sua Maestà debba sposar insiene con Monsignore la querella sua che ha con Re Cattolico) because it was quite certain that the King of France would only look on, and that the whole burthen would fall on England, which, it must be owned, is not strong enough to engage single-handed with such a powerful sovereign as the King of Spain, for whom all the other sovereigns have so great respect.
Monsieur has informed the King of the state of the negotiations, and the English Ambassador has done the same.
The King told one of his Court that he had answered that he would take the same line towards his brother as the Queen did; if she helped him he would too, even though the watch should not come off. The Queen of England demands that the King's promise should be put in writing, but his Majesty has never consented to go beyond a verbal promise, perhaps because he does not trust her, or because he wishes to fulfil his word at his own convenience.
They say that the States of Flanders and the Prince of Orange are to meet at Dunkerque to welcome Monsieur, who is said to have already crossed over. He will return to England for the meeting of Parliament.
Don Antonio is at Tours; he has sent ten companies to the Azores. But he will not be able to get together sufficient forces to attack Portugal. They say his object is to raise a fleet, and to harry the Indiamen from some stronghold in the Azores. He will be very lucky if his affairs go well, as he has to deal with a Prince so much greater than himself.
Paris, 28th December 1581.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]