Simancas: March 1561

Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 1, 1558-1567. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1892.

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, 'Simancas: March 1561', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 1, 1558-1567, (London, 1892) pp. 184-191. British History Online [accessed 21 May 2024].

. "Simancas: March 1561", in Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 1, 1558-1567, (London, 1892) 184-191. British History Online, accessed May 21, 2024,

. "Simancas: March 1561", Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 1, 1558-1567, (London, 1892). 184-191. British History Online. Web. 21 May 2024,

March 1561

17 Mar. 124. The King to Bishop Quadra.
The bishop of Arras has sent me your letter of the 27th January and copies of what you had written to him. I had previously received other copies, and the statement made to the Duchess, my sister, by Dr. Turner on your behalf respecting English affairs, which I have not answered hitherto, as so important a matter had to be deeply considered. The principal points in your letters will be answered in this after thanking you in the first place for the care you have taken to learn all that was going on, and inform the Duchess thereof from whom we ordinarily hear it. We have been much pained to see how religious affairs are going there, and the bad course the Queen has taken both in this respect and in the Scotch business, and also in the matter of her claims against the French, without a thought of the bad condition of her affairs or recollecting what so many times ... (fn. 1) declare. You do well in advising us of everything, and in using what diligence you can to prevent the evil from going further or producing the troubles which might be feared, and we desire you to continue to do so, as your prudence and knowledge of English affairs will show you to be needful, upholding and encouraging the Catholics all you can, until God shall open a way by which the evil that has befallen the country may be radically amended. As I am so deeply concerned in this and wish so earnestly to find a remedy for the religious evils of the country, I was glad to read the account you sent of what had passed between Sidney and you about Lord Robert, and the benefits which might arise to religion if we were to favour and protect him in his suit with the Queen, and although, so far as we can see, the discussion did not rest upon much foundation, and we do not know what had passed between Lord Robert and you, yet, as our principal aim is directed to the service of our Lord, the maintenance of religion and the setilement and pacification of the country, and as we see that Sidney's proposals tend to this end, and further bearing in mind that God, if He so wills, can extract good from great evils, we have decided that the negotiation suggested by Sidney should be listened to. You will not only listen to him and willingly enter into the subject when he speaks of it, but try also to lead the matter on to a more solid basis, as for instance, by bringing the Queen and Lord Robert into it, and getting in writing and signed by her whatever the Queen may wish to be proposed to you. This is necessary, as her words are so little to be depended upon, and you know by the experience you have had of her that this is always the course she pursues when she has no intention of fulfilling what she says, and only wishes to use our authority for her own designs and intentions. You will therefore be very alert and cautious in this negotiation, warned by what has been the result of previous negotiations.
When the discussion is in progress it will be well to make them understand that, in order to gain our good will and obtain our aid in what they so much desire, it will be necessary that the Queen should give some signs of what she wants and aims at. Since she has been Queen she has never yet done anything according to our advice or for our satisfaction towards the amending of religion, or the pacification of her kingdom, and what she might now do is to liberate the prelates and other Catholics she has imprisoned, agree to send her Ambassadors and Catholic bishops to the Concilio, and submit herself unconditionally to its decisions. Besides this she should, pending the resolutions of the Concilio, allow Catholics to live as they please without coercion or violence, and in view of such action we should soon see whether she was sincere in this business or only sought her private ends.
When the Queen is sending persons here to treat of the business, since Sidney says that the present Ambassador is not a man whom the Queen can trust, you must try to get her to send whoever comes as ordinary Ambassador to reside here and to recall the present man, because if this is not done, but ... (fn. 1) persons are sent, it would be an attempt to interpose and take advantage of our influence to help her in her objects, and would greatly damage and deshearten the Catholics and so fail to attain the ends we have in view, which are to restore religion and liberate the prelates and other Catholics who are in prison. We think, therefore it will be best to prevent the formation of a special embassy, if it is intended, and let an ordinary Ambassador be sent, who can explain and negotiate.
There is only to add that if on opening the discussion they desire to know whether you are treating with our knowledge and consent, you must judge if the affair looks solid and promising ; and, in such case, or if you think necessary in order that they may make the preparations required to carry their intentions into effect, you may opportunely tell them that you give ear to them with our full authority and goodwill.
This is the course we think should be followed in the negotiations, and we leave the manner and form of carrying out our wishes to your prudence and zeal, which we are sure will enable you to fulfil the task fittingly. In the conversations you may have with Sidney and Lord Robert you had better give them to understand that I have the same good will towards the latter as I ever had, and take every opportunity you may see to express affection and attachment to him, so as to forward the affair by this means.
Besides the aforegoing . . . (fn. 1) that his Holiness, knowing of the need of the imprisoned Bishops, wishes to send them some succour by your hands, and has asked us to instruct you to receive the money which will be sent for this purpose, and help them without its being known there that the money comes through you. We therefore direct you, if any money is sent to you from his Holiness for this purpose, to receive it and distribute it in conformity with his orders, and with all due secrecy to avoid unpleasantness, and I shall be greatly gratified thereat.
His Holiness writes us that he has appointed the Abbé Martinengo to carry the bull of the Concilio to the Queen, and has given him orders, when he arrives in Flanders, to be governed by the directions of the bishop of Arras. I have written to the latter not to let him pass until he sees what progress is being made with Sidney's negotiations, because if these look promising preparations could duly be made for giving it (the bull) a better reception, and with hope of more fruitful result. You will therefore keep the Bishop well advised of the progress of the negotiations, and he can, in sight thereof, write to us what steps are to be taken from here, and the orders to be given respecting the entry into England of the said Nuncio and the fulfilment of his embassy. Advise me also of everything that happens in this matter, as we await your reply with the utmost solicitude.
Respecting your remarks about your coming hither, you are so much required in England, owing to your knowledge of affairs there, that we shall be glad for you to remain for the present at a post where you are so useful to us. We shall bear it duly in mind.—Toledo, 17th March 1561.
25 Mar. 125. Bishop Quadra to the King.
On the 23rd ultimo I wrote to your Majesty that the going of the earl of Bedford to France was not alone to condole for the King's death, and endeavour to obtain a ratification of the peace, but also to try for a close alliance between the heretics there and the Queen. Since the Earl came back I have learnt that what has been done is to propose to the Queen-mother and the King's Council that, as there is a diversity of opinion on religion in England, and various counsels have been given to the Queen, she begged the French Queen to send her opinion and advice as to how she should act. They answered, that nobody's opinion on so clear a matter could be very needful to one so wise as the Queen, who knew perfectly well how Christian and Catholic the kingdom of England had always been, and how obedient to the dictates of the Church. The earl replied, that the Queen's intention was to end these differences by sending her theologians to the general Concilio, but that she thought, in order that the Concilio should be held with all fitting security and freedom, it was necessary that it should meet on this side of the mountains ; and if the most Christian King would look to this and endeavour to have some such fitting place named, the Queen offered to unite with him and form a firm alliance in order that the business might be carried through with liberty and security, and without coercion being resorted to. They answered this lukewarmly, as before, pointing out that as they had agreed to Trent as the place of meeting, and your Majesty and the Emperor had concurred, there was no opportunity now of speaking of any other place, and on the contrary, they were hastening their Bishops departure for Trent. This alliance, and the object of it, as I have already written to your Majesty, were Paget's idea ; the design being for the Queen to unite with the French with the pretext of obtaining a good Concilio (which it was likely the French would concur in, seeing how much they need it,) with the sole end of gaining credit by the new alliance and intimidating her own subjects, both Catholic and heretics, and so ensure herself against disturbances in the country. At the same time they would be able, up to a certain point, to dispense with your Majesty's friendship, which appears to them obligatory now, and trammels them so that they cannot do as they would like in their own country, seeing the confidence and affection with which the Catholics here regard your Majesty. I am learning that this voyage of the Earl has not been without result, as a man has arrived after him from the duchess of Ferrara, (fn. 2) who has made herself the chief of the heretics, and, as the Earl himself says, they expect other gentlemen to visit the Queen and offer their services in the cause of religion.
Regarding other affairs Robert is very aggrieved and dissatisfied that the Queen should defer placing matters in your Majesty's hands and sending a person to Spain to negotiate as he told me at first, and as he has fallen ill with annoyance the Queen resolved to please him by taking the following step. She sent Cecil to me to say that it would be a great service to the Queen and a help to this business if your Majesty, as soon as possible, would write her a letter saying that in the interests of the tranquillity and welfare of this country (which your Majesty desries as much as those of your own kingdom) your Majesty advises her not to delay her marriage any longer, and if she could not accept any of the foreign Princes who are her suitors by reason of her disinclination to marry a person whom she does not know, then your Majesty thinks she ought to marry a gentleman of her own country to the satisfaction and on the selection of her nobles, and your Majesty advises that this should be done at once, and promises to be a friend to whomever may be chosen for a husband. Cecil told me this not as from the Queen but as from himself, in the presence of Sidney who had come to see me just before, I believe in order that I might tell your Majesty what the Queen sent to say to me. He (Cecil) said also that this was very important in your Majesty's interests and in the interests of the friendship between the two houses, because if these negotiations fell through the Queen might marry a prince less friendly to your Majesty than Robert would be. I answered that all this was very well, but I desired to know whether it was the Queen who sent word for me to write this or whether it was a discourse of his own ; because this point was most important if your Majesty was to be persuaded to write, and if it were not the Queen's own wish I did not know whether your Majesty would be disposed to give her any more advice, bearing in mind the small avail of all previous counsel to her. In reply he begged me, seeing that the Queen was a modest maiden and not inclined to marry, not to press her to propose these means and expedients herself, which would make her look like a woman who sought to carry out her desires and went praying people to help her, but he urged me to get your Majesty to write. I did not think fit to answer him further, so as not to seem unwilling to do what he asked me. I turned the conversation to Sidney, and asked him whether Lord Robert would be pleased if your Majesty did this service for him. Sidney answered seriously that he would be grateful for all your Majesty might be pleased to do for him, and he begged me on his behalf to take up his cause warmly.
Conversing further on the matter Cecil declared to me the object of this expedient. He said that the Queen was resolved to do nothing in the business without the consent and goodwill of her people, who have the right of controlling the public actions of their sovereigns, and she did not wish to prejudice this right by marrying without their consent. She desired your Majesty's letter to give her an opportunity for calling together some members of the three estates of the realm and placing before them yours Majesty's communication with the reasons for coming to a decision, and so with the accord of these deputies to arrange the marriage with Robert. The deputies would be three Bishops, six peers, and ten or twelve deputies of cities, all of them confidants of Robert and informed of the Queen's wish. This is now being arranged and they have already ordered to be called together in some provinces the people who usually have the management of public affairs in order to form this deputation. The sum of it all is that Cecil and these heretics wish to keep the Queen bound and subject to their will and forced to maintain their heresies, and although she sees that the heretics treat her very badly, especially the preachers, and that Robert is more disliked by them than by the Catholics, she dares not go against Cecil's advice because she thinks that both sides would then rise up against her. Robert is very displeased at all this, and has used great efforts (persuaded thereto by Sydney) to cause the Queen to make a stand and free herself from the tyranny of these people and throw herself entirely on your Majesty's favour. I do not think, however, that he has been able to prevail upon her, and as he is faint-hearted and his favour is founded on vanity he dares not break with the Queen as I understand he has been advised to do by the earl of Pembroke who is of the same opinion as Sidney, and says that Robert should ask her either to marry him before Easter (which she might well do with your Majesty's favour) or give him leave to go to the wars in your Majesty's service. But he is carrying on the negotiations as the Queen wishes, although he thinks she is mistaken, and in the meanwhile he is waiting to see what can be done by means of your Majesty's reply whilst Cecil is arranging this deputation as he pleases. I would beg your Majesty to instruct me how I should act if no reply has been sent to my last two letters.
As Cecil is entirely pledged to these unhappy heresies, and is the leader of the business, he has often tried to engage me in the discussion, in order, no doubt, to discover my views and doubting perhaps whether I had not made some private arrangements with Robert or with the Queen herself. I, having no hope of arriving at anything good through him, have always refused to enter into the discussion of the matter with him. The other day he asked me whether it would be well to have some theologians sent here on the Pope's behalf to confer on the Christian doctrine with these people. I told him I did not think it a wise expedient or one likely to give any good result, but rather to cause greater offence and obstinacy, since in the colleges where there is no one to judge it had never produced any fruit but had simply multiplied points of dispute. He afterwards asked me whether I would consent to meet the archbishop of Canterbury to open negotiations for conciliation. I answered him yes, if he pleased, and in view of this, which I said in the presence of Sidney, he again asked me recently what we can do about religious affairs as the archbishop of Canterbury did not dare to come and speak with me for fear of being noted as suspicious by the other bishops. I told him I did not know what to say, but that if he or the Archbishop or the Queen herself were to ask my opinion (although I had not charge of spiritual affairs here) I should not fail to tell them the truth as I understood it. He said the Pope had other cares and had enough to do in maintaining his pomp in Rome without caring for the unity of the Church or remedying its ills. This was said in not too respectful words, and he complained of the style of the bull of the Concilio and the insulting words which were constantly being said and written about them as if they were not Christians and did not believe in God. The end of it was to beg me as a bishop and minister of so pious a Prince as your Majesty to endeavour to open a way to some fair understanding, and he urged me to give him my opinion on the matter. Although I did not wish to speak of it yet, as Sidney was present and he would be sure to convey it to Robert and I wanted to avail myself of Sidney, who has been much scandalised recently at the proceedings of these heretics, nevertheless I decided to tell Cecil what I thought. I said that if they were in earnest and really intended to appease themselves and come to a good union I thought that before beginning to discuss other dogmas of our faith we should try to agree on those points on which we disagreed and which are the cause of the schism and division that now exist between us. After this impediment had been removed we could in all humility and charity, examine together the other dogmas touching the truth of our Catholic faith and the knowledge and worship of God. He asked me what were the articles I wished to be considered before all others, and I told him those concerning ecclesiastical government and policy, namely, the office of Pope and Bishops, the authority of Concilios and the distinction between spiritual and temporal powers. We discussed this at great length, and at last he said the following three things to me, I know not in what spirit. First that the Queen would be willing to send her ambassadors and theologians to the Concilio even though it were convoked by the Pope on condition that the meeting was at a place satisfactory to the other Princes, namely your Majesty, the Emperor, and the king of France. He then said that she would be willing that the Pope or his legates should preside in the Concilio in such a way as did not infer that he was a ruler over it, but only as head or president of it. The third was that they would be in favour of judging questions of faith, as well as others, according to the precepts of holy scripture, concensus of divines, and the declarations of ancient Concilios, He was very emphatic about these ancient Concilios, saying that he would only admit the first four. He then said that what I demanded was evidently to have a judge for matters of faith and to declare the separation of the temporal and spiritual powers, and he went on to say that as the English bishops are canonically ordained they must have seats in the Concilio amongst the others. I told him that in regard to that, the justice of his claim could afterwards be considered and then asked him whether, in case the Concilio fell through (which it well might if the German Protestants were obstinate in their claims) he thought this reconciliation between this kingdom and the Catholics could be effected by means of a national Concilio with the same intervention and presidency of the Pope's legates. This appeared to him new and startling, and he said that questions of faith were of such a character that they should be examined and agreed upon by all, to which I answered that if this were so they had done wrong here in altering them alone especially in opposition to the whole ecclesiastical body in the realm, and if they thought of calming matters, the same authority they employed to alter the religion would suffice to correct it. This point therefore remained undetermined, but as regards the rest he said that he had greatly prejudiced his cause by discussing it with me as he was ignorant and ill informed and it was only just that I should hear their theologians on the subject. He said also that he would repeat to the Queen what had passed with me. I have not seen him since as I have been, and still am ill, and the Queen is not well. I do not know what Cecil thinks about it, but I hear he is going about publicly saying that the Queen wishes to send representatives to the Concilio, and that the Concilio cannot properly be judge of questions of faith nor is the Pope, able to preside over it by right, which was the subject of our discussion.
I also know that he is treating these bishops harshly, and that he used insulting words to the bishop of Winchester the other day because he preached against the authority of the Concilios. I hear that the bishops frequently meet in the archbishop of Canterbury's house and are drawing up a profession of their faith to send to the Concilio. Cecil told me that if the Pope wrote to the Queen I should give him notice to call her Queen of England and defender of the faith, because if he did not write all her titles she would not receive the letters.
I do not know what to think of it all, only that these people are in such a confusion that they confound me as well. Cecil is a very great heretic, but he is neither foolish nor false and he professes to treat with me very frankly. He has conceded me these three points which I consider of the utmost importance, however much he may twist them to the other side. I see that these Bishops are making their profession of faith, which is a sign that they wish to do as little good, as the duke of Wurtemburg did nine years ago. The need of the Queen is great, and it might cause her either to earnestly humble herself for the sake of safety and to effect this marriage without danger or to dissemble and try to deceive the people, and the Catholics particularly, by the news of her intention to return to the Catholic faith and obtain your Majesty's favour.
Bearing all these things in mind I think there is nothing to be lost by trying to show her the road to godliness, so that she may enter it if she have a mind to. If I am mistaken in this I beseech your Majesty not to attribute it to my carelessness, but to the character of the business which does not admit of being dealt with strictly and cautiously like other temporal affairs.
The ratification of peace was requested by the earl of Bedford from the queen of Scotland, who said that she would ratify it with pleasure, but that it was necessary to obtain the views of the estates of the realm, and it has therefore been referred to them. They are now in session, called together by Noailles, who was instructed to convoke them for the purpose of laying before them his message from the King to the effect that they should be tranquil and persevere in their friendship and alliance with his house.—London, 25th March 1561.


  • 1. Torn in original.
  • 2. Renée of France, daughter of Louis XII., and widow of Hercules duke of Ferrara.