Milan: 1579

Calendar of State Papers and Manuscripts in the Archives and Collections of Milan 1385-1618. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1912.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.

'Milan: 1579', in Calendar of State Papers and Manuscripts in the Archives and Collections of Milan 1385-1618, (London, 1912) pp. 597-601. British History Online [accessed 24 April 2024]


March 11.
F. 95. Inf.
Lettera 196,
fol. 397.
1006. John Leslie, Bishop of Ross, to Cardinal Borromeo.
A meo ex Italia discessu, cum reliquum peregrinationis cursum feliciter confecissem et Sacratiss. Imperatorem atque alios plerosque Germaniae Principes S. D. N. nomine salutassem ac sereniss. Scotorum Reginae D. meae et gentis nostrae negocia praecipue quod ad monasteriorum restitutionem attineret, ita cum iis tractassem ut non parva spes affulgeret, accidit, nescis quo fato, ut in ipsis Germaniae finibus comprehensus, cogerer dies ibi complures herere, ut ex itineris mei tanquam diario cujus ad Illam D. N. summa capita nunc mitto intelligere poterit ubi et praecipuas rationes adscripsi quibus in optatam certi, sed insperatam libertatem divino tandem munere me asseriis. Varios cum Principi illo de religione sermones contuli atque utinam parem expectationi meae exitum consortiantur.
De Scotia nostra a quo tempore Lutetiam veni non pauca cum ex literis, tum ex nobilibus, quorum non pauci religionis causa exulis hic nunc agunt, multa accepi, quae magnam nobis spem de instauranda apud nostrates, religione Catholica faciunt. Quid enim aliud nobis pollicetur optime informatus, a natura Principis nostri animus, accedente praesertim singulari ejus studio, non solum in matrem suam Reginam, cujus in religione Cath. constantia rara est, sed etiam in proceres aliquot catholicos, quorum concilio in rebus gravissimis utitur. Ineunda sunt hoc mense publica trium ordinum regni nostri comitia, in quibus quid de religione agatur, provirili non deero ac singula ad Ill. D. V. accurate perscribam. Tam vero quod tam candide de meis lucubrationibus Illma D. V. sentiat tamque prompta me voluntate (ut ex literis ad me perlatis abunde intellexi) licit meo merito, prosequatur, quoniam gratiam referre nequeo, quod unum superest, gratias ago habeoque maximas: Et quae est Illma D. V. humanitas, majorem in modum peto ut quod ad eam non diverterim profecttionis meae piae et necessario ac accelerationi, non voluntati assignet. Quare quicquid hac in parte a me delictum est, non solum proxima occasione sartire conabor, sed continuis etiam precibus a Deo opt. Max. contendam, ut Illmam. D. V. Ecclesiae suae et nobis quam diutissime servet incolumem.
Parisiis, xio Martii, 1579.
F. 95. Inf.
Lettera 197.
fol. 398.
1007. Discursus itineris Episcopi Rossensis per Germaniam.
After the Bishop of Ross left the Imperial Court, pursuing his way through the rest of Germany, he visited the Bishops of Mainz, Halberstadt, Bamberg, Eichstat and Strasburg. He discussed with them many matters for the preservation and propagation of the Catholic faith and the restitution of the monasteries pertaining to the Scots in Germany, and he received abundant satisfaction from some of them, and by others, with the pope's sanction a certain yearly pension was assigned to various Scottish students for the purpose of study.
Not content with approaching the Catholics he went to the heretics and at Nurenberg petitioned the Senate to restore the Scottish monastery of St. Giles in their city, producing most ancient titles of pious founders. The Senators replied that the revenues of the monastery had been applied to other uses, certainly not pious ones, and they could not admit men of another religion into their republic; but in other matters they would show every kindness to the bishop and the Scottish nation.
Having heard from the Bishop of Eichstat of the great piety and steadfastness in the faith of the nuns of St. Catherine there, who had been for a long time without their sacrifices and no priest dared to go to them, the bishop visited both Catholic churches and performed mass in the monastery, exercising other spiritual functions at their request, and nothing could have afforded the bishop or them, I imagine, greater consolation. He did the same at the order of the Jerusalemites at Strasburg, although Lutheranism is very strong there.
He continued his tour of Germany until he reached the frontier of Lorraine, where some officers of Casimir's army, recently returned from Belgium, attacked him on the road; but his servants being armed against vagabonds drove them off, and the journey was continued in safety. However, these officers with 300 and more carabineers (sclopetariis) compelled the bishop to remain at Pfalzburg by severe threats, under the authority of George John, Count Palatine of Litzelstein and Waldentz, and kept him shut up in the citadel for nearly a whole month, taking away and searching all his belongings to see if they could find any letters calculated to do harm; but they found none. They then appointed guards to watch his movements. Their principal object was to extort a large sum of money from the bishop as ransom. They thought the bishop was a very rich bishop, though he was anything but this, and to this end at their meals, at which they ate flesh on forbidden days, they told various tales of priests and Catholics slain or ransomed by them both in Belgium and France. It offended the bishop greatly that, while he recited his daily prayers they howled their metrical psalms and other ribald songs in German. But the bishop accepted all in patience and silence, mindful of the words of St. Ignatius who, when brought bound from Syria by the Roman soldiers, wrote: When brought from Syria to Rome, bound to beasts by sea and land and night and day with ten leopards, that is soldiers who guarded me, indeed they are worse; then I turned with my whole heart to God.
He recalled Solomon's words (cum placuerint Domino viae hominis inimicos suos convertet ad pacem (fn. 1) ) and when destitute of all human hope, he felt the Divine aid at hand. The Prince Palatine returned home to Spires, a long way off, and he had the bishop taken under a strong guard in a storm at night amid frost and ice through forests to another fortress. On the following day the prince saw him and began to make excuses, saying he thought the Bishop of Ross was an Italian sent to prevent the reformation for which Casimir thought he was sent to Belgium. When he decided to release Ross, as detained by mistake, he said that other princes objected alleging many things against Ross, as one selected to stir up trouble in England and Scotland and endeavour to change their reformed religion, as they call it, and therefore in the opinion of all the princes of the Augsburg confession, that detention was necessary, at least until he was denounced to the Queen of England, as they all knew the goodness of that queen to them, through whose aid and authority alone they were defended in their faith. Accordingly, he could do nothing for the bishop without offending the German princes of his faith, unless he would like to be sent to the Queen of England or to some prince devoted to her, indicating Casimir or Deuxponts. The bishop replied that he was attempting nothing extraordinary in Germany, and he had no orders which would disturb the public tranquillity in England or Scotland; he therefore asked to be allowed to go free as it was admitted they had detained him by mistake, and now they knew the simple sincerity of his actions.
At length, after frequent discussions, when the bishop had fully established his sincere intention declaring that any injury inflicted on him would be avenged, possibly by the princes of Lorraine and Guise, the kin of the Queen of Scotland, and that they could get no ransom from him, as nothing remained of his goods and benefices, so that his detention would prove more burdensome than profitable, the prince, being affable by nature, brought the matter before the Council, and although they were against the bishop's release, some of them wished to temporise with the bishop about the injuries inflicted upon him and asked him what excuse they could make to the princes of the Augsburg confession if they let him go. The bishop replied that they could use the very words of Christ's judge “I find no fault in him.” They then made the bishop swear that this detention or the injury inflicted upon him and his should never be avenged. After that treated him in a friendly way, the prince among many other things suggested an agreement in religion between the Catholics and those of the Augsburg confession, so that no small hope might be conceived, as this prince by wise advice might do something for the Catholic faith in our parts, for example, with the King of Sweden, brother of his wife, a modest and richly endowed princess, with whom as with the prince the bishop used every effort to lead them into the true way.
At length when the prince ordered that 100 and more gold pieces taken from the bishop by the officers should be restored to him on his departure, the bishop, more desirous of liberty than gold, had it generously distributed among the officers and other servants of the prince. Therefore he left in great favour and came to Lorraine, where he saluted the duke in the pope's name and presented a brief. He conversed much with the prince, who approved thoroughly of the pope's action for the defence and promulgation of the Catholic faith and preservation of the dignity and splendour of the Apostolic See. He promised to endeavour to obtain the immediate release of the Queen of Scotland and that her son should be brought up in the right way. After staying some days with his Highness at Nancy, he went, not of his own will but at the Duke's request, to Pont a Mousson to salute Cardinal Avandemont and the Bishop of Metz, (fn. 2) the duke's son, whom he perceived to have made remarkable progress in letters, especially the Cardinal, who is a Latin and Greek scholar and well versed in holy writ, a youth of great judgment and prudence, who was returning from his studies at the Jesuit college and was then instructed by the pious and learned D. Bochero, a pupil of the Cardinal of Lorraine, (fn. 3) so that all conceived the highest hopes of such a prince.
Leaving these erudite princes he went on to the Cardinal Guise, (fn. 4) then at Sommenore, and showed him the pope's brief, expressing his great regard for the Cardinal and all his family, and he would like to go with him to Rome as soon as possible. He then went to Joinville the residence of Antoinette de Bourbon, grandmother of F., Duke of Guise, (fn. 5) then almost ninety, and learned of the visit of the Prince of Guise and the other princes to Pogianum for the christening of the daughter of the Duke of Luxemburg, son-in-law of the Prince of Aumâle. (fn. 6) There he showed the pope's brief to the Duke of Guise and other princes, to whom Ross's unexpected arrival proved opportune for the ceremony, as if he had been sent by God. On the day after his arrival, a Sunday, he administered the sacrament to the princess grandmother and her daughter, the abbess of St. Peter's, and then officiated in all the christening ceremonies, to the great delight of the princes, and absolved them all, especially the parents of the child. On the following day he went with the princes to Dijon for the christening of a child of the Duke of Mayenne, and sought pardon until he should reach Paris, where he found the Most Christian king disposed to further the Catholic faith. Accordingly the bishop remains at Paris diligently engaged upon the affairs committed to him by his Holiness.


  • 1. Prov. xvi. 7.
  • 2. Charles of Lorraine, Bishop of Toul and Verdun, son of Nicholas of Lorraine, Count of Vaudemont; and Charles son of Charles II, Duke of Lorraine, Bishop of Metz.
  • 3. John, Bishop of Toul, son of Réné II, Duke of Lorraine.
  • 4. Louis of Lorraine, son of Francis of Lorraine, Duke of Guise.
  • 5. Antoinette, eldest daughter of Francis de Bourbon, Duke of Vendôme, widow of Claude de Lorraine, first Duke of Guise. She died on the 20th Jan., 1583, aged 89. Pere Anselme: Hist. Genealogique de la Maison Royale de France, Vol III.
  • 6. Diana daughter of Claude of Lorraine, Duke of Aumâle, married Francis, Duke of Luxemberg in 1576.