Venice: July 1515

Pages 251-258

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 2, 1509-1519. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1867.

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July 1515

July 3. Original Letter Book, St. Mark's Library, Letter no. 29. 632. Andrea Badoer and Sebastian Giustinian to the Signory.
Transmit the letter from the King, announcing the peace with France, in which he had comprised the Signory. Had audience of the King on that day (3rd July) at Greenwich; were asked by him if they had any news. Replied that their information related solely to the great preparations making by the King of France. Rejoinder of King Henry that similar intelligence had been communicated to him by his friends and servants at the French court.
London, 3rd July 1515.
[Italian, 1½ page]
July 3. Original Letter Book, St. Mark's Library, Letter no. 31. 633. The Same to the Council of Ten.
Had informed the King of the French King's preparations, and that he was about to leave Lyons and proceed beyond, without specifying whither, as the King and Lords appeared to disapprove of the Italian expedition. In reply, the King expressed, in Latin, his belief that King Francis would not go into Italy during the present year, and inquired whether King Francis was considered the friend of Venice, and whether he was going into Italy for the service of the State. The ambassadors answered, also in Latin, that the Signory believed him to be their friend, both because even before coming to the throne he evinced regard for the Signory's interests, and lamented the wrongs done her heretofore, and also on account of the recent confederation. To the second inquiry, answered that King Francis was going into Italy chiefly to recover his duchy of Milan, and consequently the territory of Venice, which had been unjustly seized by her enemies. To this the King replied: “If your sole hope is based on the favours of the King of France, you will be deceived, for when he has recovered the Milanese he will seize the rest likewise. He is fresh to the war and young, and has money at his disposal; you, on the contrary, have expended considerable sums. On his arrival in Italy he will be at liberty to act as he pleases, and I would that you had made an adjustment [with Maximilian], as it would be better for you to sacrifice one town [Verona] than lose the whole. I know that King Lewis, although my brother-in-law, was a bad man; I do not know what this youth may be, but, at any rate, he is a Frenchman, nor do I know how far you can trust him. He is certainly very popular, much more so than King Lewis.”
The ambassadors confirmed this last remark, saying, that in truth he was not only loved but adored by his subjects; and the King rejoined: “Per Deum! ipse dat malam causam suis, in hoc principie regni dara tot labores et impensas suis subditis, by such vast military preparation.”
Defended the Signory's policy, as they could not make an agreement against France, and at the same time preserve their faith. The King enquired whether Spain was the enemy or friend of Venice. Replied that the King Catholic had greatly injured Venice by his army in the Vicentine and Paduan territories, and in the Polesine. The King said, “Non possumus bene loqui de hoc propter causas;” and then asked how the Signory stood with the Pope, and to which side he leant, answering the reply thus: “I could not believe you were otherwise than friends with the Pope; for I likewise am his good son, and shall always be with his Holiness and with the Church, from which I mean never to depart; and I think I have sufficient power with the Pope to warrant hopes of my making him adhere to whichever side I choose.” The same remark had been made a few days previously by the Archbishop of York. Did not show distrust of the Pope, especially because the King was much inclined towards him.
The King returned to the topic of the King of France, saying the latter would deceive the State, and that he knew for certain, through language uttered by King Francis himself, and communicated by certain friends and servants at the French court, that he would not cross the Alps that year. He added, “and should this be the case, what can you do? for you will remain single-handed against so many potentates, and against the Switzers.”
Asked if he knew why, after having made so much military preparation, King Francis delayed his march, and, after some hesitation, the King at length said, “Ego volo fateri veritatem; ego credo quod metu mei, ne aliquam vim inferam ejus regno, non transilibit monies.”
Considering this a matter of extreme importance, remarked that, if it was so, King Francis must have been deterred by what King Henry had never imagined, by reason of his confederacy with France and Venice. The King rejoined, that according to the agreement he was at liberty to succour the enemies of France, should she be the aggressor; and if she were attacked he might lend her his support; “so that,” said he, “my belief is, that if I choose he will not cross the Alps, and if I choose he will cross.” Of similar tenor were the remarks made a few days previously by the Archbishop of York.
Answered the King, he should bear in mind the claims not only of France but of Venice, whose territory had been so iniquitously seized, and her ruin meditated, notwithstanding the treasure expended and blood shed by her in defence of Christendom. There was no hope of recovering their territory, except by the coming of the King of France into Italy, and therefore they besought King Henry to further the Signory's interests with the Pope, and assist the undertaking.
In reply, the King expressed great love for Venice, saying his sole regret was that she should be deceived when expecting succour; which distrust of France his Majesty repeated in English to Badoer, thereby showing that both he and all those in authority under him deeply resented the invasion of Italy by King Francis, dreading the increase of his power. So great a rivalry for glory between the two young Kings might rust the metal, a result undesirable until France and Venice had both recovered their territories; after which, a contrary opinion might perhaps be entertained.
The Signory, amove Dei, ought not to fail keeping the King well advised, or to furnish the means of visiting him and converting him from his opinions; it being impossible to do so without some missive from the State, as it was contrary to the custom of the country to visit the King without some cause. Urge the frequent transmission of summaries of news, from France, Italy, and the Levant.
Considering the clause mentioned by the King to be of extreme importance, would endeavour to obtain it from some of the Lords [of the Court], although they considered it well nigh impossible, as in such matters the English proceeded with extreme caution.
London, 3rd July 1515.
[Italian, 5½ pages, or 141 lines.]
July 3. Original Letter Book, St. Mark's Library, Letter no. 32. 634. Andrea Badoer and Sebastian Giustinian to the Council of Ten.
After writing the above were secretly informed by an English gentleman, a great friend of Badoer's, that on the 1st of July the King determined to send the Lord Chamberlain to King Francis, to tell him to beware of infringing his agreements.
This informant heard it said in the chamber of King Henry, that the King of France was a powerful monarch, being Lord of France and Britanny, and by going into Italy would become yet more powerful, and seize the Milanese and other territories; and that it would not suit England to have so great a neighbour. Lord Worcester was to leave on that evening (3rd July). Should the report be true, the ambassadors trust that King Francis will have realized his intention before the Lord Chamberlain's arrival.
As no hostile preparations were visible in England, the Lord Chamberlain's mission may have proceeded from the Pope, with whom the King is closely linked.
London, 3rd July 1515.
[Italian, 19 lines.]
July 6. Original Letter Book, St. Mark's Library, Letter no. 33. 635. The Same to the Same.
On the morning of the 5th asked the Duke of Norfolk, the Lord High Treasurer, for news. He answered them, “The King of France will not cross the Alps this year, and I do not know how, without aid, you can cope with so many enemies conspiring against you; it would have been well to make some agreement for the avoidance of utter annihilation.”
Endeavoured to ascertain why King Francis had renounced his project, and after some little hesitation the Duke replied that, owing to the past wars, the whole of France was reduced to great distress and misery, and therefore, at the suggestion of his councillors, King Francis would not cross the Alps, and especially as he was certain of considerable opposition from the Switzers. As the Duke seemed to reproach the Signory for not having made terms with their enemies, told him that the State had been unable to enter into any agreement without breach of promise, in virtue of her confederacy both with the late King Lewis and his successor, which bound them in like manner to King Henry. That in the next place, according to the agreement proposed to the Signory, Venice, under pretence of ceding Verona to the Emperor, would have lost all her possessions in Lombardy, Verona being situated between that province and the march of Treviso.
The Duke rejoined that those towns, however, were not the patrimony of Venice, but taken from other powers. Replied to the effect that republics had no patrimony, none of their dominions being derived from forefathers and ancestors, but that legitimate and just acquisition and long possession constituted their equitable titles, and by such tenure the Venetians held their towns in Lombardy, which had been obtained in the wars waged a century previously with the Dukes of Milan, both by battle and by treaties and ratifications of peace. That they had acquired Crema and Bergamo by treaty, Brescia by surrender and long siege, and Verona likewise by surrender; all which towns they had now held for many years, during the lifetime of Duke Philip, Duke Francesco, Duke Galeazo, Duke John Galeazo, and Duke Ludovic, as was well known and acknowledged. That Verona had belonged to the Scaligers, who left no heirs, and that the Emperor, who then held it, had no more right so to do than the Soldan of Egypt: so that the Duke of Norfolk might comprehend whether Venice had been wronged or not.
Next endeavoured to inspect all the clauses of the agreement between England and France, in order to ascertain whether they comprised any article whereby King Henry could prohibit King Francis from undertaking the Italian expedition, or which authorized England to succour the enemies of France. The Duke of Norfolk said he was willing they should see the articles, but they must speak to certain other Lords of the Council; adding, however, that the only clause relating to that sort of confederacy purported that if either of the parties made a demand of mutual aid, it was to be conceded impensis petentis.
Inquired the reason for sending the Lord Chamberlain to France. The Duke answered that he was not going, and desired them to confer with him again, as he wished to have a long conversation with them after they had seen the Archbishop of York andthe Bishop of Winchester.
On the afternoon of the same day, went to the Archbishop of York, who really seems to rule all England, and he confirmed the statement, “Regem Gallorum nullo pacto esse transiturum montes hoc anno,” assigning the same reasons as those above mentioned, and adding that he knew not how to qualify the prudence of the French King and his councillors, who, despite the distress under which his subjects were labouring and the hostility of the Switzers, proposed to descend into Italy; that he had never cared either to ask the aid of England, or to make the slightest communication concerning his undertaking, showing that he held his English Majesty in small account, although the latter had it in his power to give or withhold from him the means of going into Italy; and that on his King depended the stay of King Francis on the French side of the Alps, or his march beyond them.
Considering this of great importance, endeavoured to learn how it was possible; but the Archbishop did not choose to give any further explanation, though he repeated the charge yet more positively, and complained with the utmost bitterness, saying, “He never writes hither; he does not impart any of his secrets; he treats all our subjects as enemies, and allows his own people to capture the ships and vessels of England, without enforcing any compensation soever. He has sent the Duke of Albany, who styles himself governor, into Scotland, and will not desist until he has compassed the death of the Queen and of the infant King, in order to make himself master of that realm. We first offered our services to King Lewis, to make terms between him and the Switzers; and we did the like with this present King, because we have great authority with them: but King Francis has never deigned even to thank his Majesty. Ponder, my Lords ambassadors, whether this is to be borne; and say if these are the fashions of confederates. Per Deum! Rex noster decrevit servare honorem et existimationem suam. This indeed I promise you, that should France alter her style, King Henry will change his mind: let King Francis evince regard, esteem, and trust in him; communicate his affairs; treat his Majesty's subjects well; and not attack our ships; in that case the King of England servabit fœclus initum, and will not swerve thence, nisi lacessitus by legitimate causes. I was the author of this peace, contrary to the opinion of many of these lords; and I will moreover maintain it, should King Francis choose to do his duty; but if it be his intention to persevere as he has commenced, I will raze my own fabric; and I assure you that all these (sic) (fn. 1) reproaches have been cast upon me by those membern of the Council who were averse to this peace.”
The Archbishop added much other very warm language, similar to that of the King on the same subject. Deemed it advisable to apologize for King Francis, but without increasing the just indignation of the right reverend of York. In the first place, touching the maltreatment which he said had been exercised against English subjects, remarked that officials frequently acted contrary to the will of their sovereigns; that with regard to the seizure of property and vessels, they knew not what to reply, though possibly the like had been done in this matter also, although the King had ordered their release. That, with reference to the non-communication King Francis might perhaps have prepared this army with the sole intention of attacking the Switzers, who were doubtless coming to invade his kingdom; but. not having decided upon undertaking the Italian expedition, bad therefore made no communication to this effect: added to which, even though determined thereon, if he nevertheless anticipated having to delay, by reason of hostilities from the Switzers or from others, he might possibly not have thought fit to announce his resolve, lest it should seem that he was afraid of the Switzers; and that in point of fact it would be a degradation for him to abstain from going into Italy, after his intention had been so publicly announced. Said, they believed this was the opinion of King Francis, as they knew that the Pope had made similar complaints, and that his Majesty had excused himself for having made no announcement on the plea of not having decided on crossing the Alps. Upon this the Archbishop replied, “Per Deam! Domini Oratores, this was also my own reply to these Lords of the Council, to exonerate the King of France, for in truth there is no better way; but I perceive that this apology likewise does not avail, for he might easily have announced his intention of going into Italy, should circumstances permit, without bloodshed, and that he would not march otherwise. Such a course, instead of disgracing him, would have been the act of a most clement prince. Nevertheless.” he again repeated, “let the King of France act by the King of England as a friend and confederate, showing that he holds him in account, and his Majesty will abide by the confederation as due; if not, he will prove himself a powerful monarch, both in troops and treasure.”
Then asked to which side the Pope seemed to lean, whereupon the Archbishop smiled and said, “You know as well as I do, and would fain know less; but rest assured that this King's example will be followed by his Holiness, we being of one and the same mind with him, and our fortunes the same. Should our King espouse the French interests, the Pope will do the like.”
Express their belief that the King and his Privy Council are convinced that, through their influence with the Pope, and by reason of the impediments raised by the Switzers, England will have it in her power to prevent the invasion of Italy by France, and that hence arose such positive assertions that, should King Henry choose, King Francis would pass into Italy this year, but not otherwise.
London, 6th July 1515.
[Italian, 5 pages, or 129 lines.]
July 7. Original Letter Book, St. Mark's Library, Letter no. 34. 636. Andrea Badoer and Sebastian Giustinian to the Council of Ten.
Had been told by the Bishop of Durham (Thomas Ruthal), a man of great authority, and their friend, that the King of France would not pass into Italy this year, by reason of this great league between the Emperor, Spain, Milan, the Switzers, and the Florentines, to which the Pope also would perhaps become a party.
Inquired if any one in England bad certain knowledge of the French King's intentions. He replied in the negative. He said the King of England had not interfered, either to speed or prohibit the undertaking, although, by reason of the French King's misconduct, he would be entitled to thwart it. There was no fear of King Henry's swerving from the confederation, unless provoked by France.
With regard to Spanish affairs, the Bishop said England and Spain were reconciled; that King Ferdinand the Catholic would abide by the will of England in everything, and that the Pope was now so linked with England, that words could not exaggerate their mutual goodwill; so that in the affairs of France the policy of England would be that of Home.
Concerning the Lord Chamberlain's embassy to France, the Bishop said that he was not to go, one of the governors of Calais having been appointed in his stead, to whom a commission would be shortly sent; and that the business related solely to indemnity for damages done to English subjects.
London, 7th July 1515.
[Italian, 1¼ page, or 29 lines.]
July 16. Original Letter Book, St. Mark's Library, Letter no. 35. 637. Andrea Badoer and Sebastian Giustinian to the State.
Receipt of letters from the ambassador Dandolo in France, with assurances that King Francis was Avell disposed towards England. Thinking to please the Archbishop of York, who seemed to be the author of the peace between England and France, they went to him and stated that King Francis was very sorry that King Henry doubted his love and goodwill, to prove which he was about to send one of his gentlemen; using also many expressions calculated to generate concord between the two crowns. The Archbishop appeared much pleased with this communication, and said in reply, “Be assured, should the King of France show signs of valuing the friendship of our King, he will never violate the confederation and his faith; and in like manner as I was the author of the peace, so will I exert myself to confirm and preserve it. On the other hand, should King Francis choose to maltreat English subjects, and seem not to hold King Henry in account, his power is such that he will know how to avenge himself; for I tell you, Domini Oratores, that we have ships here in readiness, and in eight days could place 60,000 men on the soil of France; so we are able to thwart any of his projects at our pleasure”
The Archbishop stated that the Switzers were divided amongst themselves, and therefore the affairs of France and of Venice might turn out well. He also said that the Pope had in fact not yet formed any decision, but would doubtless follow the example of England; and that Genoa, apparently, had decided for France.
After this interview, by letters from Pasqualigo to his brother Lorenzo, dated Paris, 3rd July, heard of the great preparations of King Francis, and that he was about to conclude with the Swiss ambassadors an agreement negotiated by the Pope. Did not announce this news to the King or the Lords, in order that it might be first communicated by the expected French ambassador.
London, 16th July 1515.
[Italian, 2 pages, or 53 lines.]


  • 1. “Certificandovi che tutte queste pontature sono mie, objecteme da questi che non volevano tal pace.”