Venice: May 1517

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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'Venice: May 1517', Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 2, 1509-1519, (London, 1867), pp. 381-390. British History Online [accessed 19 June 2024].

. "Venice: May 1517", in Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 2, 1509-1519, (London, 1867) 381-390. British History Online, accessed June 19, 2024,

. "Venice: May 1517", Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 2, 1509-1519, (London, 1867). 381-390. British History Online. Web. 19 June 2024,

May 1517

May 1. Mantuan Archives. 878. Francesco Chieregato to the Magnifico the Knight Vigo da Campo San Pietro.
The Duke of Suffolk had arrived at the Court, to be present on St. George's Day at the festival, as a Knight of the Garter. He was very well received by the King and also by Cardinal Wolsey, who, by reason of his vast ability, rules everything.
Had visited the Duke on behalf of their Lord the Marquis [of Mantua], and made the statement enjoined him. The Duke was beyond measure gratified, and sent hearty remembrances, saying he was very anxious for the coming hither of one of the Marquis's sons, that he might be enabled to show the son how much goodwill he bore the father. He was most grateful for the present of horses now in preparation, and said he would requite the Marquis with most excellent dogs and hobbies, not for the value of the horses, but as a mark of courtesy. During his stay here the Duke went daily to Cardinal Wolsey's house to take and accompany him to the Council, and by following this course his affairs will prosper. Yesterday he departed for his estate, where the Queen his wife is; and within a month she is expected here.
London, 1st May 1517.
[Original, Italian.]
May 5. Original Letter Book, St. Mark's Library, Letter no. 127. 879. Sebastian Giustinian to the Signory.
Accompanied by the consul Pasqualigo and Antonio Bavarino, went to Cardinal Wolsey to obtain renewal of the patents [authorizing Venetian merchants to trade in England], which had expired seven years previously. The Cardinal desired one of the King's secretaries might be sent for, to discuss the matter. He insisted on the payment of 3001., as given to the King's late father; but the Venetians would not disburse any money, save for the deeds and stamps. Discussed with him the affair of the wines of Candia. He said he had arranged for those of the Parliament who made the decree, which is the Venetians' strongest point, to confer with him (Giustinian) about the matter.
After Easter, (fn. 1) a certain preacher, at the instigation of a citizen of London, preached as usual in the fields, where the whole city-was in the habit of assembling with the magistrates. He abused the strangers in the town, and their manners and customs, alleging that they not only deprived the English of their industry, and of the profits arising therefrom, but dishonoured their dwellings by taking their wives and daughters. With this exasperating language and much more besides, he so irritated the populace, that they threatened to cut the strangers to pieces and sack their houses on the 1st of May.
Represented this state of things to the Cardinal, who promised to make provision against any accident on that day. On the last day of April, being warned of many threats used by the populace, and having witnessed many acts of violence perpetrated by them, went to Richmond, where the King was residing, and showed him the peril to which all foreigners were exposed. The King promised to take every precaution, and the next night, having received news that the Londoners were in arms and committing great outrage upon the strangers, he got up at midnight, took the field with a large number of persons, and sent messengers to London to announce his coming with a large army, though in reality he never quitted Richmond.
The fact was that, on the night preceding the 1st of May, the London apprentices, with a number of bandits, amounting in all to 2,000, rose up and went to divers parts of the city inhabited by French and Flemish artificers and mechanics, sacked their houses and wounded many of them, though it was not understood that any were killed.
They next proceeded to the house of the King's French secretary, which they sacked, doing very great damage there; and they would have cut him to pieces, had he not escaped up the belfry of the adjoining church. In that neighbourhood they sacked a number of houses belonging to French artificers.
They then proceeded to the houses of the Florentine, Lucchese, and Genoese merchants, whom they insulted; but, as those houses were well furnished with men, arms, and artillery, they could do them no harm. No demonstration was made against the houses of the Venetians, as they have ever conducted themselves with equity and decorum. The house of the Spanish ambassador received some slight insult. His (Giustinian's) dwelling was guarded like a church by some of his friends who were wont to visit him there daily.
Greater mischief and bloodshed would have taken place, had not the Cardinal, being forewarned, taken precautionary measures. He and other lords on that night came with considerable forces to the city by several roads. They found the gates shut by the rebels, who had overpowered the forces of the Lord Mayor and other city magistrates, and compelled them to release the prisoners confined in the gaols. The Lord High Admiral (Earl of Surrey) came with a number of troops, entered the city by force, and caused another gate to be opened, outside which was the Duke of Norfolk, his father. Having entered with their forces, they admitted “Monsignor di Borgogna “(Duke of Buckingham?) and other lords. They then seized about 70 of these rascals, twelve of whom, being ringleaders, have been already condemned to death. The others will probably share a similar fate tomorrow. Among them are the man who instigated the preacher, and the preacher himself. The King has now in London 4,000 or 5,000 men in armour. So great is the malignity of these rascals, that what they are now unable to do for fear of death is done by their women, who evince immense hatred towards foreigners.
Richmond, 5th May 1517.
[Italian, 4¼ pages, or 115 lines.]
May 6. Minio's Original Letter Book, MS. penes me. Letter no. 50. 880. Marco Minio to the Signory.
Had been told by the Pope that he had received letters from France, dated 25th April informing him that the Emperor, the Catholic King, and England would assuredly swear to the agreement negotiated between them of yore, but which was postponed on account of the words “quoad offensionem.” The Pope added that the ambassadors in Rome said the oath had been already taken, whereas his nuncio wrote to him that “they intended to swear.”
Rome, 6th May 1517.
[Extract, Italian.]
May 9. Original Letter Book, St. Mark's Library, Letter no. 128. 881. Sebastian Giustinian to the Signory.
Owing to the precautions taken, the execution of some 20 of the offenders, and the proclamations threatening death and loss of property to those who molest strangers, the riots in London had ended better than had been expected. On the day of the riots an ambassador from the King of Portugal arrived in London, and was attacked by these rascals. He thereupon made great complaints against the King and the Privy Council. He was to have audience at Richmond on the 10th. The Cardinal and other lords were gone thither on this account.
Richmond, 9th May 1517.
[Italian, 1 page, or 22 lines.]
May 9. Minio's Original Letter Book, MS. penes me. Letter no. 51. 882. Marco Minio to the Signory.
Receipt in Rome of letters from Flanders, dated 25th April, announcing that the Emperor, Spain, and England had sworn to the agreement previously drawn up by them, and which was understood to be “quoad deffensionem,” they having cancelled the words relating “ad offensionem.
Friar Nicholas, who went to England, wrote that the Catholic King would go to Castile.
Rome, 9th May 1517.
[Extract, Italian.]
May 12. Original Letter Book, St. Mark's Library, Letter no. 129. 883. Sebastian Giustinian to the Signory.
The proceedings against the rioters had not yet been terminated. London was again quiet. Had met the Portuguese ambassador on his arrival at Richmond. Spoke of the ancient friendship which had existed between Venice and Portugal. The ambassador alluded to the armada sent by Portuga] against the Turks in favour of the Signory, and complained that since his King had commenced the Indian voyages the Signory had been hostile to him, and given succour to the Soldan against him. Used many arguments to convince him that the Signory had not done so; and told him that, although the Venetians were somewhat injured by the spice trade being turned to Portugal, they were more zealous for the Christian faith than for a few additional profits. Dined with him at the Court.
That day, having heard that the ambassador had completed his mission, and was going to the Court of the French King, had visited him at his dwelling. He said he had taken leave, and was well satisfied with his Majesty, the object of his embassy having been complimentary to the Queen, who was the sister of the Queen of Portugal (Maria), and to congratulate the King Catholic on his accession. He inquired how it was that the Signory maintained an ambassador in England, as they had not been accustomed to do so formerly. Replied that the King had not only kept aloof from the league of Cambrai, but had made a league with the State. Assured him of the Signory's good will to the King of Portugal; and that there was a chief magistracy at Venice for preventing the conveyance of iron, timber, and provisions into the territory of the Infidel.
The ambassador's name was Don Pietro Civrea.
London, 12th May 1517.
[Italian, 5¼ pages, or 130 lines.]
May 13. Misti Consiglio X., v. 41, p. 35, tergo. 884. The Council of Ten to the Ambassador in France.
Donato Ferrero, a Milanese, the servant of the Duke of Barri, (fn. 2) being admitted into the Doge's private chamber, urged that as a confederacy had lately been formed between the Pope, the Emperor, the King of England, and the Catholic King, the State should join it, and offered the aid of the aforesaid Duke of Barri to that effect.
[Italian, 28 lines.]
May 13. Minio's Original Letter Book, MS. penes me. Letter no. 53. 885. Marco Minio to the Signory.
The agreement between the Emperor, Spain, and England, had not been sworn to, although the oath would certainly be taken. Rome, 13th May 1517.
[Extract, Italian.]
May 16. Minio's Original Letter Book, Letter no. 54. 886. The Same to the Same.
Details his conversations with the Pope, who had previously conferred at some length with the Spanish ambassador, during whose audience the Pope sent for one D. Melchior, the agent of the Swiss Cardinal of Sion. Infers thence that news had been received from Burgundy. The Spaniard had been preceded by the English ambassador (Sylvester de Giglis), and when he (Minio) inquired if there was any news from England, the Pope said, “The ambassador has nothing but very stale intelligence.”
Had understood that Don Hironimo de Vich, the Spanish ambassador, was exerting himself to carry the agreement with the King of England into effect, in which case it would also be joined by the Switzers.
Rome, 16th May 1517.
[Extract, Italian.]
May 19. Mantuan Archives. 887. Francesco Chieregato to Vigo da Campo San Pietro.
Revival of the Anglican league, which would be joined by the Pope, and sworn to in a few days by the Emperor, by the Catholic King, and by his Holiness.
On the day of St. Philip and St. James (1st of May) there was a plot to cut to pieces all the strangers in London, in number from 6,000 to 7,000; it was to have been executed by the servants of the Londoners (the apprentices) when they went to take their nosegays. (fn. 3) The strangers, having information of the plot, gave notice to the King, who issued threatening proclamations, notwithstanding which the apprentices maltreated many foreigners, and sacked many houses, denouncing death to the Cardinal and the City authorities. The Cardinal fortified his dwelling with cannon and troops. The King was at Richmond, and sent troops to London, who seized ail the rioters they found in the streets. At length he went thither himself and routed them. Cannon were fired to intimidate the town, 15,000 troops surrounding it, and 10,000 being introduced within the walls. He then raised gibbets all over the town, and caused 60 of the rioters to be hanged. Others were subsequently quartered, beheaded, and drawn on the hurdle. Very great vengeance was taken on them, and his Majesty showed great love and goodwill to the strangers. There remained some 400 prisoners whom the King had destined in like manner for the gallows, but our most serene and most compassionate Queen, with tears in her eyes and on her bended knees, obtained their pardon from his Majesty, the act of grace being performed with great ceremony.
The King had the Hall of the Grand Council [Westminster Hall] (which is as long as the “Piazza di Ban Pietro” at Mantua., and well nigh as broad,) hung with tapestry of cloth of gold, with the canopy of brocade. All the princes, lords, and barons of the kingdom were present. They and the Londoners were in number 15,000.
When all were seated, Cardinal Wolsey made a long speech to the people, reproving them for their rebellion, and for having endangered the King and his realm. His Majesty spoke next, at some length. All the prisoners were paraded handcuffed, in pairs, and in their shirts, with ropes round their necks, as if about to be executed; and they threw themselves on their knees, shouting, “Mercy!” The Cardinal and all the peers (tutti li Baroni) likewise knelt before the King, and begged the prisoners' lives; whereupon his Majesty, after addressing the people again, pardoned the rioters and had them released, so much to the popular satisfac-faction, that everybody wept for joy.
The riot was commenced by a friar, and by a preacher, who during Passion week preached a crusade against foreigners as against Infidels; and the populace, being generally averse to strangers, was easily persuaded.
The Queen of Scotland departed on her way toward Scotland on the 16th May, being accompanied by the King on her journey for four days. Her affairs with the Duke of Albany were arranged. The Queen Dowager of France and her consort were about to return to the court, and would soon be in London.
Sends greeting to his friend Castiglione, to Madama Zenevra Palavicina, and to the very charming Dona Ursina, to whom he (the Nuncio) had addressed a sonnet.
Mentions the death by suicide at Brussels of that notorious scamp Agostino Coppo, who had been organizing a very important plot. (fn. 4)
London, 19th May 1517.
May 19. Original Letter Book, St. Mark's Library, Letter no. 130. 888. Sebastian Giustinian to the Council of Ten.
Had heard from the Bishop of Durham of an alliance stipulated by the Catholic King with King Henry. A general league might easily be formed against the Turk.
The nuncio, Chieregato, had showed him two briefs from the Pope, transmitted by Cardinal de' Medici, one for the King and the other for Cardinal Wolsey, whereby he consented to join the league between the Emperor, Spain, and England.
Did not know whether the conditions of the alliance were the same as those agreed to in October 1516, or whether they had been altered.
By the same briefs the Pope earnestly entreated the King to lend him 50,000 ducats for six months.
The Pope had been induced to join the league, owing to the disturbances in the duchy of Urbino, the English ministers declaring that King Francis covertly assisted Duke Francesco Maria della Rovere.
London, 19th May 1517.
[Italian, 1¼ page, or 32 lines.]
May 19. Original Letter Book, St. Mark's Library, Letter no. 131. 889. Sebastian Giustinian to the Council of Ten.
Had ascertained from Cardinal de' Medici that the articles of the league were the same as those stipulated in October 1516. A brief had been despatched to Friar Nicholas Schomberg, (who was expected back in England in four or five days from his mission to the Emperor and the Catholic King,) ordering him to sign the treaty on behalf of the Pope, provided it had been signed by the King of Spain.
The conclusion of the alliance between England and Spain implied that King Charles had already signed the treaty.
As the confederation formed in October 1516, ad conservationem communium statuum, comprised stipulation of a protest to be served on King Francis and the Signory, charging them to desist from the siege of Verona, inquired of the nuncio how that clause could find place in the present treaty, Venice having recovered Verona, and the French army being no longer there.
Chieregato replied that of this he knew nothing, but would inquire and answer.
London, 19th May 1517.
[Italian, 1¼ page, or 30 lines.]
May 23. Original Letter Book, St. Mark's Library, Letter no. 132. 890. Sebastian Giustinian to the Signory.
Had been informed by “the faithful friend” (Chieregato) that the league had been joined by the Catholic King, and that all the confederates were sending agents to Rome, to swear to it in the presence of the Pope. King Henry had empowered Cardinal Adrian (Castellesi) to swear in his name. A courier would leave on the 25th. The Bishop De Giglis, the former ambassador, would not however be recalled.
Went to the Cardinal to despatch the affair of the wines. He confirmed the news that the league had been sworn to by the Catholic King, and ratified by the Pope. He said it was merely defensive; that Venice might retain Verona, and the King of France his duchy of Milan; that the confederates had secured the kingdom of Naples, so that France would not attempt to occupy it, or form any projects with respect to Tournai or Calais; that the truces between England and Scotland had been confirmed, and the Queen (Margaret) was returned into her realm; and that the Signory and France would be allowed to join the league, if they chose.
Had also visited the Bishop of Durham, who said the league would not be prejudicial to Venice, and that they were content with the Signory's possession of Verona, as all cause of dissension between Venice and the Emperor was thus removed. He affirmed that the object of negotiations of the King of France at Cambrai was to injure the Signory and others.
London, 23rd May 1517.
[Italian, 3½ pages, or 84 lines.]
May 26. Original Letter Book, St. Mark's Library, Letter no. 133. 891. Sebastian Giustinian to the Signory.
Had been informed by “the faithful friend “(Chieregato) that the King was writing to the Pope in haste, and sending by the messenger the 50,000 ducats; which corroborated the truth of the alliance. Had that day received the State's letters of the 2nd, 9th, and 30th April, and 6th May. Went to the Cardinal to communicate the Turkish newsletters, but was requested to return another day, as the Cardinal was too much fatigued to attend to them. Proceeded therefore to the Bishop of Durham, who is “one and the same as the Cardinal,” and communicated the newsletters to him. He was already acquainted with the news by way of Home.
London, 26th May 1517.
[Italian, 1¼ page, or 36 lines.]
May 27. Minio's Original Letter Book, MS. penes me. Letter no. 59. 892. Marco Minio to the Signory.
On the morning of the 26th, the Pope told him that the King of Spain had sworn to the agreement already ratified by the Emperor and King Henry VIII.
The Pope added that the Switzers and himself were mentioned in the treaty, but it was ad deffensionem tantum. His nuncio had received a commission for three months, within which period he was to conclude this agreement, and had assented, on condition of writing for the Pope's consent, without which he was not authorized. The Pope further stated that the Emperor had had a fit of apoplexy—that the stroke was slight, but when once such attacks commenced, those who experienced them did not usually outlive the year. (fn. 5)
Rome, 27th May 1517.
[Extract, Italian.]
May 28. Original Letter Book, St. Mark's Library, Letter no. 134. 893. Sebastian Giustinian to the Signory.
On the 27th an ambassador had arrived from the Emperor, named Master Christopher, brother of the Cardinal of Gurk (Matthew Lang). Sent “the faithful friend” (Chieregato) to him, to obtain information. He learned that the ambassador was come to ask the King to defray the expenses of the Emperor's journey back to Germany, which was to take place in a fortnight. The King Catholic would leave for Spain within a month. The Cardinal of Gurk had been sent by the Emperor to the Diet of Worms. The Emperor had determined on going to Rome in the course of the present year, to be crowned, which seemed to be the wish of all Germany. If unable to go thither otherwise, he would go in battle array.
Would visit this ambassador. The Imperial ambassador resident (Count Tationo) had declined both his (Giustinian's) visits and friendship.
London, 28th May 1517.
[Italian, 1 page, or 23 lines.]
May 28. Mantuan Archives. 894. Francesco Chieregato to the Marquis of Mantua.
The Cardinal had assured him that, should the Marquis send one of his sons to England, he, as well as the King, would act by him as a father, and not allow him to want for anything becoming his noble birth and condition.
Went to the King on Palm Sunday, found him alone, staid a long while, and amply executed the Marquis's commission. The King listened graciously, expressed as much regret for the inconvenience caused by the French and Venetians to the Marquis, as if the evil had befallen his own territory. The King was anxious to receive the Marquis's son, and would treat him as if he were a son of his own. He returned thanks for the horses which were being got ready, and would partly recompense the Marquis with English horses and dogs.
The King asked whether it was true that Prince Frederick Gonzaga had married the widow of the Magnifico Julian de' Medici. Answered that he disbelieved the report, but spoke in such terms that, if true, the King would not have cause for dissatisfaction.
Return to the court of the Duke of Suffolk, who had passed the whole winter on his estates. Delivered to him the message from the Marquis, with which he was much pleased. He returned thanks for the Marquis's intention of sending him horses, and declared himself very anxious for the arrival of one of the sons of the Marquis. The Duke was then on good terms with Cardinal Wolsey, and as the Queen his wife was expected at the Court, they would recover their former favour.
The Cardinal does everything. The King occupies himself with nothing but scientific amusements. All negotiations pass through the Cardinal, who manages everything with consummate authority, integrity, and prudence. The King pays the Cardinal such respect that he speaks only through his mouth. The Marquis should therefore hold the Cardinal in great account.
Recent ratification in Flanders of the league between the Pope, the Emperor, England, and the Catholic King, regard being had (cum salvatione) for the kingdom of Naples, Calais, —, (fn. 6) and the affairs of the kingdom of Scotland. Should the King of the French and the Venetians content themselves with what they actually possessed, they were to be at liberty to join the league.
The Cardinal of Gurk had quitted Flanders for Germany, where a Diet was to be held. The recently created Cardinal of Cambrai was at the point of death. In a few days the Emperor would return to Germany, as within a month the Catholic King was to depart for Spain. The King of England was amusing himself, intent solely on playing every instrument and singing (sona et canta de tuti li instrumenti), and for the Whitsuntide holidays was preparing to joust against all comers as by proclamation.
Congratulates the Marquis on the marriage of Prince Frederick Gonzaga to the Marchioness of Montferrat, (fn. 7) of which intelligence had been transmitted to him in the letters of friends. Had not circulated the news in London, in order that the Marquis might be the first to make the announcement to the King by letter.
London, 28th May 1517.
May 29. Minio's Original Letter Book, MS. penes me. Letter no. 61. 895. Marco Minio to the Signory.
Sends the articles stipulated between the Emperor, Spain, and England, together with the names of the adherents mentioned by the three Powers. (fn. 8)
Rome, 29th May 1517.
[Extract, Italian.]


  • 1. Easter Sunday fell on 12th April in 1517.
  • 2. Francesco Maria Sforza, who became Duke of Milan on the expulsion of the French in November 1521.
  • 3.
  • 4. Of the conspirator, Agostino Coppo, there are several notices in the Giustinian correspondence and in the correspondence of the Council of Ten.
  • 5. The Emperor Maximilian died on the 12th January 1519.
  • 6. Illegible in MS.
  • 7. Frederick Gonzaga did not marry Margherita Paleologa, Marchioness of Montferrat, until the 16th of November 1531. See Stefano Gionta, p. 82.
  • 8. The document does not exist in Minio's Letter Book.