Venice: January 1516

Pages 274-280

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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January 1516

A.D. 1516.
1516. Jan. 2. Original Letter Book, St. Mark's Library, Letter no. 50. 671. Sebastian Giustinian to the Council of Ten.
The King had returned to Greenwich. Went immediately to visit Cardinal Wolsey, who, for authority, might, re verâ, be styled “ipse Rex” Commenced discussing the affair of the moneys in most moderate terms, avoiding every cause of irritation.
The Cardinal listened most attentively and patiently for the space of a quarter of an hour, and then replied that what he had told Giustinian at their last conference was perfectly true, and that the sum was far short of 120,000 ducats. He proceeded to say:—
“I will speak to you with all sincerity and truth, and will tell you what becomes a Cardinal on the honour of the cardinalate. It is true that the King has remitted moneys to Flanders, which will reach Germany, and perhaps Italy, for two purposes; first, for the purchase of his personal ornaments, both weapons and other things. Then, again, we are aware that a number of princes whom I will not particularize to you, whether in France, in Germany, or in Italy, have pledged a quantity of beautiful jewels of great value, which we hope to obtain at no great cost, and therefore thought fit to avail ourselves of the opportunity of purchasing them, for at other times such things could not be obtained at a much greater outlay. This comes of the want of money felt by these princes, and although the remittances may reach the hands of our ambassadors, they will not be under the control of the Emperor. Neither you nor your Signory need believe that his Majesty would expend his treasure against the State by aiding the defence of Brescia and Verona. No man in England had so much as thought of such a thing, or of waging war on the King of France, or of opposing any of his undertakings, for had his Majesty (of England) chosen to act thus, he would have done so at a moment when he could more easily have injured France; but such is not the intention of this kingdom. By our grade and dignity, what we tell you is the truth, for we are not of such a nature as to choose that our word should prove vain and false; and we should prefer not being honoured with this dignity, rather than do what is unworthy of it; and to the obloquy (cum supportatione) of those who told and notified these things to you, mentierunt in caput suum.”
Told the Cardinal it was reported the affairs of Scotland had caused these remittances, with a view to detaining the most Christian King in Italy, and preventing any aid being sent to the Duke of Albany.
To this the Cardinal replied: “We cannot but admit that his Majesty has the affairs of Scotland much at heart, for were he to hold them in small account he would be 'una bestia,' seeing that his sister, the Queen, owing to the Duke of Albany, is yet most grievously ill, having been prematurely delivered of a daughter, who subsequently died; she having been expelled her kingdom, deprived of all her friends, part of whom are imprisoned, whilst others have been put to death. He, moreover, has taken the entire administration of the kingdom out of her hands, and what more immediately exasperates his Majesty is the fact, that he removed the two princes from their mother's guardianship and placed them under his own charge, since when one of them has died, and there now remains an only child, in the event of whose death the kingdom would fall to the said Duke. Think what reason, divine or human, can palliate such great cruelty, and whether his Majesty, remembering that he is a King, can tolerate the like; for I promise and tell you plainly and intelligibly that he will not put up with it. If, however, the most Christian King remedy this grievance, you may believe that his Majesty will remain on friendly terms with him, though assuredly King Francis exhibits little gratitude for the faith kept towards him by his Majesty, who had everything in his power.”
All this the Cardinal uttered very passionately, saying especially that, as he had been the author of the peace, and now sought to maintain it, he should be in extreme peril, unless the most Christian King took steps against these unheard of cruelties.
In answer, apologized for the most Christian King, on the ground of his being probably unacquainted with the circumstances. With regard to the moneys, represented that, even should King Henry wish to obtain jewels belonging to the Emperor, it was desirable for the sake of Venice that their purchase money should be detained, so as not to reach his hands until the Signory had recovered Brescia and Verona; and that if the jewels were sold from necessity, there would be no lack of similar opportunities, as the Emperor only got out of one expense to enter into another.
In reply to this, after making sundry long speeches, the Cardinal said: “Domine Orator, be not anxious or dispirited about this matter, for I swear and tell you the truth; this money is never to be in the Emperor's power: so I promise you that hence the Signory will experience neither detriment nor difficulty with regard to the recovery of her towns.”
In rejoinder expatiated on the great causes for goodwill between the King and the Signory; whereupon the Cardinal said, “Your words are many, but your deeds are few.” Asked how the Signory had failed in observance towards England, and the Cardinal continued, “I do not indeed accuse the State of any fault at variance with the friendship and confederation between her and the King,” finishing the sentence so as to give him to understand that the State ought to mediate between France and England concerning: the affairs of Scotland. Said he meant to acquaint the Signory with the complaints made by his Lordship against the King of France with regard to the difficulties ofScotland; whereupon the Cardinal immediately said, “Remember that our King complains of three things: first, that his sister should have been expelled the kingdom and deprived of its government, which belonged to her both of right and by the desire of her late husband, as proved by his will; and his Majesty chooses her to be reinstated in pristinum, and given the guardianship of her surviving son; secondly, that the Duke of Albany should be removed from Scotland, as King Henry will never tolerate his stay there; and, thirdly, that the Queen 'Biancha' (Mary Tudor) (fn. 1) do receive back the jewels which King Lewis gave her as personal ornaments.”
From the specification of these three demands, infers that the Cardinal wished the Signory to take some steps for their attainment.
Inquired whether what he had said about the remittances should be mentioned by him to the King. To this the Cardinal did not give a decided negative, but implied that the matter would not prove agreeable to his Majesty. Would probably, therefore, not discuss it further, as no good could result from his so doing, that might not be anticipated from what he had already said to the Cardinal, who was “Rex et autor omnium.”
London, 2nd January 1516.
[Italian, 5 pages, or 116 lines.]
Jan. 4. Lettere del Collegio (Seereta). File no. 4. 672. The Doge and College to Sebastian Giustinian, Ambassador in England.
Commend his diligence greatly. As the King took pleasure in the Venetian advices, transmit a sufficient supply, and would continue so to do. Approve his policy with the English ministry to obtain favour with the King for the French ambassador. To do his utmost to keep the two crowns united for the common weal.
Jan. 5. Original Letter Book, St. Mark's Library, Letter no. 51. 673. Sebastian Giustinian to the Council of Ten.
Intelligence received by the merchants Frescobaldi in London from the Salviati firm at Lyons, announcing the capture of Brescia by the Venetians. Although the account obtained well nigh universal credit, Cardinal Wolsey had informed him that it could not be true, by reason of letters received on that morning from the English ambassador with the Emperor. It not being customary (as already stated by him) to visit the King without some especial reason, availed himself of the letters from Lyons to obtain audience of his Majesty, who instantly said the report was untrue, and finally all the Lords (quest Signori) came to the same conclusion. Did not think fit to speak to the King about the remittances, having been assured by all the Lords, and also that very day by the Cardinal himself, that the money had not been sent to the Emperor, and was not destined to prove detrimental to the Signory; wherefore, to have broached the subject with his Majesty would have been a needless provocation. For this reserve was extremely praised by the Cardinal and other personages.
Subsequently, in a long conference, the Cardinal complained most bitterly of the outrages committed against the King by the Duke of Albany, and said that his Majesty would not tolerate them. The Duke of Norfolk also made similar complaints, saying that as one of the royal princes had been put to death, so also the sole remaining heir would perish, in order that the Duke of Albany might succeed. Attempted to soothe both the Cardinal and the Duke of Norfolk. As the French ambassador did not exert himself to justify King Francis, deemed it unbecoming to palliate proceedings which the French themselves were either unwilling or unable to defend, but would not, however, withhold such aid as might be in his power.
Had been assured positively by the Bishop of Durham that the remittances had not been made for the purpose of injuring Venice, and that a few days would prove that England sought the welfare of the Signory and not her detriment. He would give no further explanation; merely laughing, and continuing his conversation in the same strain. All the Lords said the same, with this addition, that the State would be deceived by the King of France; and inquired what he (Giustinian) would think, if, in the treaty of peace with the Emperor, the King of France had offered to abide by the clauses of the league of Cambrai? Endeavoured to ascertain the truth, but they evaded the question, either from not choosing to quote their authority, or because the thing was devoid of foundation. All in authority in England were bent on persuading the Signory to distrust France, to detach the State from King Francis. Should England and France go to war, it would be difficult for the former not to suspect Venice, as all the English supposed France and the Signory to be of one mind. Had subsequently seen the Bishop of Winchester, a dignitary of great authority and goodness, who also denied that the transmission of the money was to the detriment of the State, expressing himself as follows: “To you I answer thus; but were I speaking with the French ambassador I should not address him in such terms.” Inferred that the remittances were destined for Italy, in which case they could only have been sent to the Switzers. Was assured by the French ambassador that the sums forwarded to them greatly exceeded the amount which had been stated. Understood that an envoy from the Cardinal of Sion had lately been in London incognito, and was already gone away, so that nothing but misunderstanding between England and France would come, unless the affairs of Scotland were settled amicably.
Requests the State to make such demonstration towards England that the amity may be maintained, all the Lords being really much inclined thereto. To obtain such a result it would only be requisite to send frequent letters with such foreign and Italian news as might seem fit to the State. Everybody was greatly surprised that the Signory did not write; for it thus appeared as if the King of England were held in small account, and all reliance placed on France.
London, 5th January 1516.
[Italian, 4 pages, or 87 lines.]
Jan. 14. Lettere del Collegio (Secreta). File no. 4. 674. The Doge and College to Sebastian Giustinian, Ambassador in England.
Report current at Venice amongst foreigners that the King of England had again, by bills of exchange, remitted a considerable sum of money to the Emperor, to enable him to carry on the war against Venice. Could with difficulty believe this; but he is diligently to investigate the matter, and, if true, to ascertain the amount thus remitted.
Jan. 15. Sanuto Diaries, v. xxi. p. 422. 675. Nicolò de Favri, of Treviso, to Francesco Gradenigo.
London, 20th December 1515.
The ambassador Andrea Badoer had departed on his way home on the 2nd December. Bills of exchange for 600 ducats having been received from the Signory, they were sent after Badoer to Flanders.
According to the news of the day, the King purposed levying a great army against Scotland in the summer, against the Duke of Albany, who, although a Scotchman, had been exiled, and now sought to return and make himself King; and the Queen, sister of King Henry, being apprehensive of this, came with her husband to his Majesty, who received her. Much was said in London by the merchants of every nation about the important embassy sent by the Venetians to the King of France, all talking about it according to their own opinions.
There was an ambassador in London from France, said to be a very sage man; also one from Spain, an Austin friar. The Queen was pregnant, as also the Queen widow of France, the King's sister, who had married the Duke of Suffolk.
Jan. 19. Sanuto Diaries, v. xxi. p. 427. 676. Marino Giorgio, Venetian Ambassador at the Papal Court, to the Signory.
Florence, 16th January.
Was told by the Pope that the King of England had remitted 100,000 ducats to Constance for the Switzers in aid of the Emperor, though the money had not yet been disbursed. The Emperor had sent 200,000 Rhenish guilders to the Switzers to obtain their services, and to prevent their making terms with France.
The Florentines were dissatisfied with the Medici government, as the Magnifico (Lorenzino) did many things of which they disapproved.
1516. Jan. 20. Sanuto Diaries, v. xxi. p. 428. 677. Marino Giorgio, Venetian Ambassador at the Papal Court, to the Signory.
Writes from Florence in date of the 16th. Details his conversations with the Pope, who told him that the King of England meant to attack the King of France, and had certainly sent 100,000 ducats to Constance by bills of exchange, wishing the Emperor to come into Italy, to which the Emperor consented.
[Extract, Italian.]
Jan. 21. Original Letter Book, St. Mark's Library, Letter no. 52. 678. Sebastian Giustinian to the Council of Ten.
Conversation on that day with the French ambassador, who had received letters from Madame Louise and King Francis, urging King Henry to muster an army and march against the Infidel. In reply to the complaints made by the English ministry of the support given by France to the Duke of Albany, the French ambassador defended his proceedings so positively, that the minsters told him with great warmth that, unless King Francis recalled the Duke and reinstated the Queen, England would go to war with France. Inquired of the French ambassador, whether the assertion made by him to the ministry that the Duke of Albany was justified in assuming the administration of the kingdom, and depriving the Queen of the guardianship of her son, had been authorized by King Francis. The ambassador answered that he had no such commission, but spoke under provocation. Thought it well to tell him that, as he (the French ambassador) had received no commission from King Francis to enter into the merits of the case, or to defend what the Duke had done, he should not have entered into such details, but endeavoured rather to demonstrate that those proceedings were contrary to the will of his French Majesty. Although some of the English ministers were averse to war, the French ambassador had not spoken to them or visited them, so that they had neither evinced anxiety to confute those who advocated hostilities, nor had cause for doing so (si che i non habia havuto ansa ne causa de poter repugnar la guerra). Exhorted him to pay court to these ministers, and apologize for King Francis on the score of his disapproval of the outrages attributed to the Duke of Albany. The ambassador answered that indeed he would not visit them, as they were men who would not listen to reason.
Next asked if he had mentioned to the ministers his suspicions of the remittance sent by King Henry to the Switzers, that they might attack King Francis. The ambassador answered that he had not imparted his suspicions either to the King of England or to his ministers, as he was aware it would be of no use. Told him that if he entertained suspicions, it was his duty to have spoken without reserve. He replied that, if he were to press the matter home, it might induce immediate hostilities, the onus of which he would fain leave to his successor.
Would endeavour to keep King Henry well disposed towards Venice, and take the part of King Francis without offending either him or the English ministry. The preservation of peace would depend upon the attitude of France with regard to the affairs of Scotland. If King Francis did not meditate hostilities, it was necessary for his ambassador so to act as to prove that he had no complicity with the Duke of Albany, and that the guardianship of the Scottish Prince and the administration should be acknowledged de jure, according to the will of the deceased King of Scots.
London, 21st January 1516.
[Italian, 4 pages, or 87 lines.]
Jan. 21. Sanuto Diaries, v. xxi. p. 433. 679. Andrea Critti, Venetian Ambassador to the Duke of Bourbon at Milan, to the Signory.
Date 18th January.
Was told by the Duke of Bourbon that King Francis had received letters from the King of England, dated 18th December, purporting that he had heard of the King's departure from Milan on his way back to France, of which he was glad; and that on the arrival of King Francis he should send Cardinal Wolsey and the Duke of Suffolk, his brother-in-law, as his ambassadors to congratulate him on the victory of Marignano. King Henry added that Queen Katharine was pregnant, and he requested King Francis to be godfather of the child, should it be a son, and the Queen of France to be godmother if the child should be a daughter. He also wrote that he meant to be the good friend of King Francis.
[Extract, Italian.]
Jan. 25. Sanuto Diaries, v. xxi. p. 438. 680. Piero Contarini to —.
Letter seen by Marin Sanuto.
The King of England, in a letter to the King of France, had said that Queen Katharine was pregnant, and he, King Francis, should put Queen Claude in the like situation.
[Extract, Italian.]
Jan. 31. Sanuto Diaries, v. xxi. p. 456. 681. Marino Giorgio, Venetian Ambassador at the Papal Court, to the Signory.
Letters dated Florence, from the 7th to the 26th January.
Conversations with the Pope and Cardinals, especially with Cardinal Bibiena. The King of England had written a letter to the Pope, telling him he was glad his Holiness had held a conference with the King of France, but complained that King Francis should have all the Switzers with him, as he, King Henry, also wanted his share of them, for whatever might occur.
[Extract, Italian.]


  • 1. It was customary in France to term a childless widow-queen “la blanche reine,” in contradistinction to “reine mere.”