Spain: October 1556

Pages 280-283

Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 13, 1554-1558. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1954.

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October 1556

285. “A Memorandum on Pope Paul IV's doings (written) in October 1556”
October The state of affairs in the Church and the harm done in this kingdom (Spain), in the ecclesiastical domain, as well as the need for remedy and reform (of the Church) are notorious, and his Majesty wishes to know what he can do and how far he can go in this direction. The position is perfectly clear, and his Majesty is entirely justified in taking action, for the following reasons:
Long before he became Pope, his Holiness showed ill-will and enmity towards the Emperor, both in deeds and in words, whenever opportunity offered. He advised Pope Paul III to attempt to conquer the Kingdom of Naples. At the time, he failed to convince the Pope, but after the death of Pierluigi, Pope Paul's son, he tried once more, offering the support of his family and friends in the kingdom, just as he has been planning to do at present.
When he was elected, it seems that he was two votes short of the number required to make his election canonical, whereupon he sat himself down in the chair where Popes are accustomed to be adored and remained there without getting up for an entire day, until the cardinals of his party forced the Cardinal of Palermo and another cardinal, a young man of the imperialist party (to adore him). When the Cardinal of Palermo performed the act of adoration he complained, saying that he had been forced to do so and that the election was not canonical. And when Cardinal Santa Fiora came to the door meaning to protest that the election was not canonical, he found the door closed and those within refused to open to him. This is the origin of the evil treatment the Pope has inflicted on Cardinal Santa Fiora since then.
As soon as he had been raised to the Papacy by these means, he made his nephew, Don Carlo Carafa, a cardinal. Don Carlo had been brought up as a soldier and spent all his life in military pursuits. At the time, he was living with the King of France. He is vicious: a murderer, robber and assasin. It is said that when he was in Venice he made an obscene gesture to the sacrament, and publicly said he did not believe in it. Well, not only did the Pope make such a man a cardinal; he handed over to him the entire government of the Church, spiritual and temporal, which was a most pernicious thing to do, a grave scandal and an evil example.
Moved by his enmity, he took in the rebels from the Kingdom of Naples who were serving the King of France, such as Bernardino di San Severino, former Duke of Soma, and many other exiles and rebels. Not only did he receive them; he handed over to them the government of Rome and the guard of his own person, turning out of his household all those who were devoted to his Majesty, even his own relatives.
In order to execute what he had been plotting for years past, he took pretext of the fact that the prior of Lombardy's galleys had left Civita Vecchia, thus acting unjustifiably, because they went forth with due permission given in writing by Count Montorio, Governor of the States of the Church, and arrested Lottini, a servant of Cardinal Santa Fiora, a very honourable man. He had Lottini put to the rack in order to find out from him what he had gone to report to your Majesties about his own election. (fn. 1) He also arrested Cardinal Santa Fiora, and inflicted ill treatment upon him, because he was devoted to your Majesty's service.
In October last, 1555, he concluded a league with the King of France by the intermediary of M. d'Avençon, the King's ambassador in Rome, with the prime object of conquering the Kingdom of Naples and the state of Milan, which his Majesty justly possesses, and also the territory of Siena. He offered the investiture of Naples to the King of France for one of his sons, and negotiated other agreements, all directed against their Majesties.
He has oppressed the Colonna and Orsini families, who are of old devoted to their Majesties, has deprived them of their estates and done them harm in their persons, honour and property, wishing to ruin them altogether. His object in the case of the Colonnas is to use their lands for an attack upon Naples, as these lands are located conveniently for this purpose.
He sent Cardinal Carafa to the King of France and another cardinal (fn. 2) to their Majesties under pretext of promoting peace. Cardinal Carafa then concluded the league with the King, and did many other things against their Majesties, the cause of peace and the welfare of Christendom. One of the conditions of the league was that he should have two thousand French troops, and indeed he took them to Italy with him by sea and put them in the places belonging to the Colonnas which were then being fortified, near the Neapolitan frontier. The other cardinal, who was going to his Majesty's Court, delayed until Carafa had concluded the league, and when he had heard that this had been done he turned about and made for Switzerland, where he negotiated with the Swiss in order to get them to join the league.
The Pope has done his best to tempt the Venetians to join the league, offering them the investiture of the kingdom of Sicily and various places in Apulia. He has done the same with the Duke of Ferrara, offering him Cervia and Ravenna, important places belonging to the Church.
He has maltreated their Majesties' ministers and servants, in spite of the immunity to which they are entitled by divine and human law. He has arrested, tortured and outraged them. He arrested Garcilaso de La Vega, a distinguished gentleman whom their Majesties had sent to him on an important mission, under pretext of letters which Garcilaso de La Vega had written to the Duke of Alva informing him of certain matters, which it was his duty to do as his Majesty's minister. He also arrested Juan Antonio de Taxis, his Majesty's chief postmaster, and had him put to the rack. He caused Abbot Brizeno to be arrested in Bologna, because he was carrying letters from the Duke of Alva to Don Juan Manrique and to Naples. The Abbot is still under arrest and is being maltreated. He behaved very badly towards their Majesties' ambassador, the Marquess of Sarria, both in word and in deed, denying him the privileges to which he was entitled and insulting him in every way. He also had Abbot Mani hanged, and with him another Calabrese, under the accusation that they had tried to poison Cardinal Carafa, when it was a matter of public knowledge that they had done nothing of the sort and were entirely innocent.
He caused his Fiscal Procurator to make a public accusation against their Majesties, and to propose that they should be deprived of the empire and their kingdoms: a most exorbitant matter, highly offensive and altogether without justification or reason.
He withdrew the quarta and the cruzada which had been granted by his predecessors as a contribution to the defence of various places which his Majesty is keeping up in Africa and which are necessary in order to resist the infidel, at a time when some of those places had been lost and others were in danger. Although in the relevant brief he gave other reasons, it is certain that his object was to harm their Majesties and weaken them, in order to prevent them from defending the Kingdom of Naples. There are constant news of intrigues undertaken by him to create unrest in that kingdom among his Majesty's vassals.
He has spoken of the imperial and royal persons of their Majesties, using unworthy expressions and saying that he would bring in the Turk against their states and that he was justified in so doing. Some say that the Turkish fleet that went to Oran had been asked for by the Pope to create a diversion in the neighbourhood of Spain.
With a view to waging this war and conquering Naples, he has raised large numbers of foot and horse, and supplied them with food, artillery and munitions, leaving nothing undone to carry out his enterprise, whereas his duty as Pope would be to promote peace between Christian princes. He, on the contrary, showed resentment when the truce was concluded between their Majesties and the King of France, and has done all he could to put Christendom in a turmoil, instigating the King of France to begin war again against their Majesties and break the truce.
Their Majesties had given him no cause to act as he has done, but had behaved in a manner that laid upon his Holiness an obligation to treat them as Catholic princes and dutiful sons of the Church. Their Majesties have done everything in their power to calm him and dissuade him from the disorderly courses he has been following. But nothing has availed, and things have now reached such a pass that it would be imperilling their dominions to wait until he invaded Naples. It was therefore necessary to place the Duke of Alva in charge of the defence of the kingdom, taking the field with his army, in order to forestall the violent designs formed by his Holiness and to oblige him to calm himself and to return to suitable methods and live in peace and quiet. His Majesty's only intention in all this is to maintain dutiful obedience towards the Holy See, as he has always done in the past.
As his Majesty's object is to defend his states, to obtain reparation and satisfaction for many outrages, to calm his Holiness and induce him to adopt a suitable attitude, for the good of the Church, and to proceed to the necessary reform of ecclesiastical affairs, thus satisfying his own conscience, he has instructed certain learned persons to study the following questions. Given the present state of affairs, his Majesty wishes to know how far he can proceed with the Pope in a manner consonant with his duty as a Christian:
Can his Majesty forbid all subjects of these kingdoms to stay in Rome or to proceed thither, and compel the prelates who are now in Rome, cardinals included, to return to Spain and reside in their benefices, under penalty of being deprived of the temporalities? His Majesty wishes to know what steps can be taken with regard to documents that have to be executed in Rome, and whether he can prevent money from being sent from Spain to Rome by letters of exchange or other means, direct or indirect.
Would it be well to hold, in Spain and his Majesty's other states, and in those of his allies, national councils for the reform of ecclesiastical affairs, and if so how should they be summoned and organised?
Considering the state in which the Council of Trent was, and what happened at the last session, would it be well to apply for its continuation in order to arrive at a reform in capite et membris, and the other purposes for which it was summoned; and if his Holiness tried to prevent this, would it be possible to insist and to send the prelates from his Majesty's dominions to attend it, even if those from other kingdoms were absent?
Given that the Pope was not canonically elected, and what is said about occurrences on that occasion, what can his Majesty do in this connection, and what would it be wise to do?
Considering the great vexations, expenses and other disadvantages to which the subjects of this Kingdom of Spain are put in connection with law-suits and other affairs which have to be taken to the Roman Court, would it not be just to ask his Holiness to appoint a legate in Spain who might despatch affairs without charge, setting up a court in this country which might decide questions without its being necessary for Spaniards to go to Rome for the purpose?
Considering the matter in which appointments to ecclesiastical benefices are being handled in Rome, which is a matter of public notoriety, might not his Majesty request the Pope to allow the Spanish bishops to act in these matters and also to deal with other disorders and excesses which are occurring at present?
Is it just that the Pope should appropriate the revenues of vacant sees in Spain, and should he be permitted to do so, since it is believed that he does not proceed in this manner in other kingdoms, and even in Spain it is a recent innovation?
Might it not be requested that the Nuncio in Spain should despatch documents free of charge; and what further steps can be taken to ensure this? (fn. 3)
Simancas, E.883.


  • 1. See above, pp. 180 and 183–85. The charge that Paul IV's election had not been canonical was considered too dangerous to be put in writing at the time, wherefore Lottini was sent to Brussels to report in person to the Emperor.
  • 2. The Cardinal of Morula.
  • 3. cf. the decree, issued at Valladolid on 13 January, 1557 (p. 285).