Venice: February 1527, 16-28

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 4, 1527-1533. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1871.

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'Venice: February 1527, 16-28', in Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 4, 1527-1533, (London, 1871) pp. 24-34. British History Online [accessed 20 April 2024]

February 1527, 16–28

Feb. 16. Navagero Despatches, Cicogna copy, in the Coner Museum. 41. Andrea Navagero to the Signory.
On the 12th, the Chancellor [Gattinara] invited the ambassadors to assemble at his house, as he was in bed with the gout. The ambassadors found there all the ministers who attended the first conference, with the exception of Monsieur de la Chau.
The Chancellor said that the Emperor had seen the powers and heard the statement made to him by his Council, and having discussed the whole, in order that his good-will might be known to everybody, he caused the reply to be committed to writing. The Chancellor then desired the secretary, Juan Allemani, to read the summary of this document, which, so far as he (Navagero) can remember, was as follows. After asserting the Emperor's wish for peace, it proceeded to examine the powers of the ambassadors. It stated that in the power given by the Pope, the preamble contained many false assertions, abusing the Emperor, and laying upon him the whole blame of the war of Italy, which was untrue, the blame, on the contrary, resting with the Pope and others who had wrongfully attacked the Emperor. That the cause assigned by the Pope for having made this League holy was not the true one, but that the real motive was to expel his Majesty from Italy; wherefore the narrative being false, the power was faulty, and indeed everything was contrary to its tenour. That it was also defective in its remainder, the word “confœderatorum” being rased without any specification of them, whereas it was requisite to mention who they were. In conclusion, had the power been correct throughout, it became vitiated, like all the others, through the invalidity of the power given by the King of France, for he doubtless was a confederate; and his ambassadors, being incapacitated from negotiating anything, the others likewise were unable to act, all being bound by their powers not to negotiate anything without their colleagues. To prove that the French King's power was not valid, they alleged, besides many other fine reasons (“bone cose”), that it stipulated the consent, as a confederate, of the King of England, who was neither a confederate nor the protector of the League, so that the power thus became null. Many other things were said against this power of the King of France, but they were irrelevant, and directed rather against the King himself than against the power. Such strange and odious language was used against the King, he being accused of breach of faith and many other things, that he (Navagero) was surprised how, when talking about negotiating peace, they could come to offensive language, and rather commence kindling fresh discord instead of quieting that which was past. To the power from the Signory no other objection was made than to the one from the Pope, nothing however being said about the preamble.
The Chancellor then continued, that although the powers were invalid, and nothing valid could be negotiated, yet, by reason of his great wish for this general peace, the Emperor would reply to all four of the demands made in the name of the League.
First of all, as to what they said about a suspension of arms in Italy, the thing had been misunderstood, for the Nuncio's words were, that the Emperor “relinquerct Italiam pacatam et liberam ab armis,” whereas they understood that hostilities would be suspended. To this it was replied, that the Emperor would not suspend hostilities for a short term, but was willing to make a truce for three years, immediately on the stipulation of which all the forces in Italy to march against the Infidels; and in the meanwhile all the articles of the peace to be negotiated, the Emperor referring all doubtful points for arbitration to persons of equity, who would decide without passion.
With regard to the duchy of Milan, they said it was an Imperial fief, and that, as the Duke was accused of high treason, the judgment appertained to the Emperor, nor had anyone to interfere in this matter. Notwithstanding, to gratify the League, and for the sake of accomplishing this general peace, the Emperor consented to have the case decided by an impartial arbitrator, though he considered it just that, until sentence was passed, the fortresses should remain in the hands of the Emperor, “cujus erat justum dominium.”
Touching the release of the French Princes, in addition to the above-mentioned abusive language against the King of France, the King was reproached with many other things, and required to return to prison in person according to his promise. But, at the end, they said that even in this matter the Emperor would not fail to condescend to any fair adjustment, provided he saw a sufficient power for negotiating the matter, and could rely on the observance of the promises that might be made to him; and that, were this the only impediment to the general peace, he was willing to release the Princes without ransom, or to give money of his own, if convinced of the attainment of so great a blessing as the one always desired by him, namely, concord amongst Christians, and war against infidels.
As to satisfying the King of England, they said the Emperor was surprised that such a demand should be made by the confederates, the King being neither a party to the League nor its protector, as affirmed by his own letters; and that being indeed most closely linked with the Emperor, both by consanguinity and friendship, he, the Emperor, did not only not refuse to repay the King what he owed him, but acknowledged the debt; about which the parties were already agreed, the English ambassadors negotiating the matter, they and not the ambassadors of the League having already concluded it.
Of this reply the Emperor ordered a notarial copy to be given to the ambassadors, who refused to accept it, the reasons for the refusal being assigned by the Nuncio—to the effect that after the conference at Granada (6th September 1526?) the allies were informed of the Emperor's willingness to co-operate for a general peace; that the necessary powers had been transmitted, and were rejected by the Imperial Councillors, who made so harsh a reply that it seemed the commencement of fresh discord rather than of peace, not an amicable negotiation, but an invective; to which had they replied in like form, always dwelling on these punctilios, no good result would ever have been obtained. That they said the Pope in his statement censured the Emperor (a charge which the ambassadors do not admit); and that the cause which had induced his Holiness to join the League was not such as asserted by him; yet it could not but seem strange to the ambassadors that the Emperor's ministers should know the Pope's mind better than he did himself. Moreover, that the imputation made by them against the King of France appeared to be unsuitable, and much at variance with what the Emperor had often said, that he would not allude to the past, but speak about the future and concerning this peace, which he now left aside, and talked of nothing but the past, using nothing but very injurious and unbecoming language; which form of negotiation seemed very strange to the ambassadors; nor did they know why it was necessary to have this reply read to them in the presence of witnesses, and by a notary public, as this was rather the form for adoption when drawing up processes and private law-suits, which are conducted with every sort of cavillation and astuteness; but not to be employed when negotiating the affairs of sovereigns, and universal peace. So that, being commissioned to negotiate peace, and not to litigate, they declined accepting the reply in any way, by so much the more, as it made answer to certain things which had not been proposed by them, namely the suspension of hostilities, about which nothing had been said, but merely that Italy should be left tranquil.
That should their Lordships, after more mature consideration, determine to give them any other reply better suited to their proposals and to the treaty for peace, the ambassadors would answer them, and prove that nothing was more desired by their Sovereigns than peace.
The Chancellor did not much relish this reply, it seeming to him contrary to his projects, and to what he expected; but he uttered a few words in rejoinder, saying well nigh the same things as in the written answer, merely adding that the ambassadors were to obtain more sufficient powers, on the receipt of which the peace should be negotiated, but that it was superfluous to discuss it at present, as nothing whatever could be concluded without a sufficient power. Apologizing for the offensive language against the King of France, he said that as his most Christian Majesty took no blame to himself for breach of faith, he did not know why the ambassadors should reproach him (Gattinara) for mentioning the fact. Navagero was surprised that the French ambassador made no rejoinder to this speech.
Everybody thus remaining mute, the Count of Nassau exclaimed, “Well now (hor ben), never did I give the Devil credit for such power as I perceive him to exercise at present. I know for certain that the Emperor, my master, wishes for nothing but peace, and you ambassadors say, and I am willing to believe it, that your Princes have the same desire; yet nothing is done.”
Thereupon the ambassadors vouched for the good will of their Sovereigns, and the Emperor's confessor, the Bishop of Osma, asked leave of the other Councillors to say a few words, thus:—that he was much pained and surprised to see matters proceed in this manner; that the negotiation was brought to a good pass, and yet all the parties withdrew, instead of persevering for the attainment of a good result. That in the written reply, although there were many strange phrases, yet did it also contain much good; for the love of God, he begged that the offensive words might be cancelled and forgotten by both sides, and that they would proceed to what was beneficial. That he knew for certain that the will of the Emperor was excellent, and that he was thoroughly disposed towards peace, as moreover shown by the reply which had been read to them. That the ambassadors had proposed four conditions with which to commence negotiating the peace, and to each of them the Emperor replied, having already settled one and facilitated the others; the treaty should therefore be continued, as the other terms likewise would be arranged, and the acrimonious words be left aside. That his Majesty had already disposed of the affair of the King of England, being ready to pay what he owes him, which was one of the demands made by the ambassadors; and with regard to the other about a suspension of hostilities, or that Italy should be left tranquil, it had also been answered that the Emperor was content, and that it seemed to him that this would be effected by a three years' truce. If the ambassadors disapproved of this plan, they might speak and devise another, but not abandon the negotiation. With regard to reinstating the Duke of Milan, and restoring the French Princes to their father, the answer to those demands was of such a sort as to show that his Majesty would grant them, if suitable means were found. Nor did the Emperor say that he refused anything; on the contrary, he found a way for the adjustment of all demands; so the negotiation ought not to be relinquished, and they should continue discussing the points, one by one. If the mode and language were offensive, and seemed acrimonious, let them be consigned to the flames, and thus disposed of.
Does not know how far the Chancellor approved of this speech, but it certainty seemed to please the majority of the Councillors.
The ambassadors consulted together (having previously agreed not to answer one syllable without the consent of all), and the Nuncio and I, perceiving what was offered us, and that the [verbal] answer differed greatly from what had been read, proposed continuing the negotiation. The French ambassador did not choose any further reply to be made, and we were therefore bound to abide by his will. This is what has taken place hitherto.
This French ambassador is so irritated by what was said against his King that he is quite furious, and in his present humour will no longer listen to peace; and, he being averse, we can do nothing more, each of us being commissioned to do nothing, save by mutual consent.
Whenever the ambassadors of the League met in consultation they invited the English ambassadors to attend and give them advice about everything. The [Papal] Auditor [Ghinucci] attended their conferences lately, communicating the result to Lee, and both together sent to tell them to do what seemed fit to them, as they (Ghinucci and Lee) had no advice to give, both because they had no commission from their King, and because they would not act contrary to what had been enjoined them by the Emperor.
The Secretary Bayard is about to depart, very dissatisfied and quite convinced that the Emperor does not choose to make peace, and cajoles everybody. He declares that on his (Bayard's) return to France the King will wage war by land and sea. Hopes for this, as it may perhaps at length bring peace. Until the Imperialists meet with reverses, does not know what to expect. Even were the peace about to be concluded, brisk hostilities could not fail to be beneficial. Does not know what to say about the Emperor's intentions. Is rather inclined (judging from results) to think that he makes fair promises to all, and that the peace desired by him is such that, if possible, he might make himself master of the world. Amongst the Emperor's ministers many are very well disposed towards peace, though everything is thwarted by the Chancellor, who drew up the reply as aforesaid, so that he (Navagero) was much deceived in his original opinion of him. Does not know whether he acts thus because he is averse to peace, or to further his own personal interests, or because he desires to do everything himself. He asked leave of the Emperor to come to Italy, and obtained it; announces his intention to depart at the end of March, and quotes daily the prediction of an astrologer, that no valid peace or truce will be made in Italy before June, implying that he is the person to make this peace, as he will then be in Italy. With this vanity he embarrasses the whole world, and is most obstinate in any opinion he forms. The course pursued by him is much disapproved by his colleagues in the ministry, but he still pursues it. Gattinara is the person who rules everything.
The French Princes have been removed from Burgos, and are being taken to Segovia, The Government has dismissed well nigh all their attendants, on the plea of having discovered some plot for their escape, and found false keys, etc. This the French ambassadors deny, and say that these excuses are devised for the purpose of confining them more closely, and thus inducing the King of France to consent to any agreement.
Valladolid, 16th February 1527.
Feb. 18. Navagero Despatches. Cieogna copy, in the Correr Museum. 42. Andrea Navagero to the Signory.
The Secretary Bayard did not depart hence until yesterday. The Cortes have commenced their sittings, and there is a difficulty about making them disburse any money, unless assured of its being expended against the Turks. The Emperor is gone post to Segovia to meet the Empress, who is expected to make her entry into this city on Saturday. The Emperor will perhaps remain abroad hunting some days longer. Is daily more and more convinced that several matters were negotiated with the Emperor apart by Bayard, who has admitted the fact, saying, however, that what he treated was not against the League, but merely concerned the release of his King's sons. The Emperor's ministers assert the contrary, and persons in authority have promised to show him (Navagero) the articles in Bayard's own handwriting.
The Emperor's proceedings will depend on the news from Italy. They believe their forces there to be such that they will meet with no opposition whatever, which renders them so elate that they think they can command the universe. If disappointed, they will become more conciliatory (humani), and perhaps entreat what they now reject.
Valladolid, 18th February 1527.
Feb. 18. Sanuto Diaries, v. xliv. p. 97. 43. Sebastian Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Signory.
The King has despatched an envoy to England to conclude the marriage, so that war may be waged in every quarter.
Poissi, 18th February. Registered by Sanuto, 28th February.
Feb. 18. Sanuto Diaries, v. xliv. pp. 97, 99. 44. The Same to—.
Account of the oration delivered by him at his first audience of the King of France at St. Germain on the 14th February.
Commended the Pope, the most Christian King, and the King of England—the last not as a confederate, because it would have displeased him, but desiring that his Majesty should be their confederate and a party to the League. When speaking of Cardinal Wolsey, styled him that Lucifer who invariably follows the course of his sun, as he in like manner accompanies his most serene Henry,—ever a most invincible Lucifer, one of the brightest stars in heaven, and a divinity (“un nume”) on whom the greatest reliance might be placed on earth, as the Cardinal exercised no less authority over human affairs than the King himself.
Will urge the proposed supplies, and the mission of the envoy to the King of England, as also of another to the Pope with 20,000 crowns for his Holiness should he not have made the truce, but, if made, the sum to be sent to Venice for the war in Lombardy. The King of England also sends 30,000 crowns to the Pope on account, on the same terms as the most Christian King.
Poissi, 18th February. Registered by Sanuto, 28th February.
Feb. 18. Sanuto Diaries, v. xliv. pp. 280, 281. 45. — to the Marquis of Mantua.
In former letters alluded to the Pope's brief to the Emperor, who considered the expressions in its preamble very offensive. The reply was too vituperative, and contained yet harsher language with regard to France. It purports that, as the mandates forbid any mention of peace without the intervention of the English and Florentine ambassadors, the former of whom will take no part in the conference, whilst the latter has no authority to act, nothing valid can be stipulated. Nevertheless, that the world may know the Emperor's wish for the general peace, he offers to make a three years' truce, and that to pacify Italy all the troops now there be sent against the Turk. Touching the Duke of Milan, the Emperor will be content to give him back his territory, with the exception of the fortresses; and as the Duke and his subjects are the vassals of the Emperor, the latter claims to appoint judges to inquire whether the Duke has erred. Should he be acquitted, the Emperor will restore the fortresses to him.
Respecting the money due to England, the Emperor says that they are agreed, and that there is no need for the League to interfere.
Concerning the most Christian King's sons, the Emperor will release them at the peace on payment of a fair ransom.
The ambassadors did not think fit to accept this reply, on account of the aforesaid preamble, and the Chancellor [Gattinara] owing to this refusal caused an act to be drawn up by a notary and witnesses. And thus ended the negotiations for the general peace.
At Valladolid nothing is heard of Italian affairs, there being no letters save those of the merchants. The Imperialists are of opinion that the Lansquenets having arrived in Lombardy, and the Viceroy being in defenceless Italy, they will conquer the whole of it.
The Cortes at Valladolid have not yet commenced. It is expected that a considerable sum will be obtained, at least from the prelates and gentry of the three estates; but it is a tedious affair.
The Emperor has given him leave [to depart], and had his safe-conduct made out. (fn. 1)
Valladolid, 18th February 1527. Registered by Sanuto, 12th April.
Feb. 19. Sanuto Diaries, v. xliv. pp. 123, 124. 46. Sebastian Giustinian to the Doge and Signory.
His most Christian Majesty has instructed the ambassador who is to go to the King of England to persuade and stimulate him to attack the Emperor in Flanders, but not until France shall have invaded Navarre.
Poissi, 19th February. Registered by Sanuto, 7th March.
Feb. 19. Sanuto Diaries, v. xliv. p. 141. 47. Marc' Antonio Venier to the Doge and Signory.
The Secretary Gasparo Spinelli is gone to the sea-side to meet the French ambassadors, and the King has sent for his daughter, the Princess, to London, to show her to them. Their arrival is much wished for, in order to conclude the marriage, for which the King is extremely inclined.
London, 19th February. Registered by Sanuto, 12th March.
Feb. 24. Sanuto Diaries, v. xliv. p. 174. 48. Marc' Antonio Venier to the Doge and Signory.
Cardinal Wolsey has told him that the agreement which his King would wish to make between the Emperor and his most Christian Majesty is as follows:—
The Emperor to give one of the French Princes to the King of England, the King of France paying a million of gold for his ransom. That subsequently the Emperor should release the other, the King giving him another million and merchants' security for the annual payment of 100,000 ducats. That the most Christian King should take for wife the Princess of England; and that Madame Eleanor, the Emperor's sister, should espouse the Duke of Bourbon. The Duke to be Viceroy of Naples, and the most Christian King to restore him the territory which he possessed in France.
London, 24th February. Registered by Sanuto, 20th March.
Feb. 24. Sanuto Diaries, v. xliv. p. 176. 49. Marc' Antonio Venier to the Doge and Signory.
Conversations with Cardinal Wolsey, concerning current affairs and the Pope. The French ambassadors, who were expected for the conclusion of the marriage, had not yet arrived, but were at Calais, detained by a storm, though their baggage came across in another vessel. They are anxiously awaited by the King. The Cardinal would approve a truce between the King [of France?] and the Emperor; and the King [of England?] will send to insist on his making peace, and leaving Milan to the Duke, as otherwise he, the King, will wage brisk war on him.
The Cardinal also told him (Venier) in what way the peace should be made.
London, 24th February. Registered by Sanuto, 20th March,
Feb. 25. Sanuto Diaries, v. xliv. p. 102. 50. Domenego Venier to the Doge and Signory.
The Englishman, Sir John Russell, departed yesterday morning on his way to Venice. On arriving at - his horse fell, and having broken his leg, he has returned to Rome. (fn. 2)
Rome, 25th February, Registered by Senato, 1st March.
Feb. 25. Deliberazioni Senato (Secreta), v. li. p. 135, tergo. 51. The Doge and Senate to Domenego Venier, Venetian Ambassador at Rome.
Received his letters announcing the return to the Pope of Sir John Russell, accompanied by D. Cesare Feramosca, who proposed to him a truce on the terms detailed, and that his Holiness gave ear to them without dissent. This proceeding is so unexpected by the Signory, that it astonishes and disturbs them extremely, as they do not consider it in reason that when the Almighty demonstrates his protection to his Holiness and the Apostolic See by victories gained over the Viceroy on land and sea, and also by the coming into Lombardy of the army of the League under the Count of Caiazo, the Pope should cool, owing to the deceitful (captiose) offers of a truce, when he ought boldly to persevere in the undertaking, which must succeed, provided he support it and be true to himself. The most Christian King has ordered Peter of Navarre to take the heavy fleet (“l'armata, grossa”) to Cività Vecchia immediately, and is sending to the Pope forthwith, by Monsieur de Langès, 20,000 crowns, not on account of the monthly subsidy, nor yet as part payment of the tenths, but for his Holiness to make use of as shall seem best to him.
The Pope will have heard of the excellent bias towards the undertaking of the English King and Cardinal, and that assistance from his Majesty may not only be hoped for but relied on, as announced in detail by the Signory's ambassador in England, the King and Cardinal being quite determined to make war on the Emperor in every quarter. Nor does his Majesty fail constantly to stimulate the most Christian King to make provision, the marriage being considered settled, as the ambassador will perceive by the enclosed summaries, although they are certain that the Pope will have received notice of this from his Nuncio in London.
To beseech the Pope to persevere in his resolve to continue the undertaking. His Holiness should not negotiate a truce, unless with the approval of the most Christian King, who aids the Pope with money. The English King does the like, and both their Majesties intend to attack the Emperor beyond the Alps (“di là da monti”), the most Christian King exhorting the King of Navarre, the Duke of Guelders, and Robert de la Mark to wage similar hostilities, as in the aforesaid summaries.
Ayes, 189.
Feb. 26. Lettere del Collegio (Secreta), File no. 10. 52. The Doge and College to Gasparo Spinelli, Venetian Secretary in London.
Are glad to perceive the offices in which the King and Cardinal persevere for the benefit of the Holy League. To give thanks to the King and Cardinal accordingly.
To inform the King and Cardinal that the Pope has again resumed the negotiation with the Imperialists for a suspension of hostilities, according to the enclosed articles. The truce is not only inopportune, but extremely injurious to all Italy. Have instructed their ambassador at Rome as by enclosed copy, which he (Spinelli) is to communicate to the King and Cardinal, giving them fully to understand that the Signory holds in due account their firm resolve to assist the Pope and the Holy League, and now more than ever, both because the projects and ambition of the Emperor have become notorious, and also by reason of the attention paid by the State to all the proceedings and suggestions of his Majesty and his right reverend Lordship.
Besides exhorting the Pope to persevere, the Signory's army and that of the Florentines did not fail to succour him. The State moreover promised him money, because his Holiness had great need of it, and said that for this reason it was impossible for him to resist. The inconvenience caused the Signory by this outlay, owing to their vast expenditure, is known to the world. To state this to the King, and to beseech the Cardinal to persevere in his religious office of aiding the Pope with money. The effect produced at Rome by the arrival there of his first 30,000 ducats was great indeed.
Is also to expatiate to the King and Cardinal on the intolerable cost incurred by the State for the maintenance of the army, the two fleets, and the Signory's cities, which require to be garrisoned.
The Signory can certainly not continue resistance, unless his Majesty relieve the Pope in such wise as to enable them to dispense with such gross expenditure.
On the Spanish army marching from the territory of Piacenza towards that of Parma, Count Guido Rangone quitted Piacenza with a good number of horse and foot, and went to Modena, whither the army aforesaid is reported to be marching. From Parma, four companies of Venetian foot and six others, with the Papal forces, the Marquis of Saluzzo and the Signory's Proveditor Vitturi, together with the French forces, and a good number of Venetian horse, have marched towards Reggio, intending to anticipate the enemy. The rest of the Venetian army, on either side the Po, has been desired to comply with any requests soever made by the Papal agents. The Signory regrets that their Captain-General should for upwards of a week have been ill from double tertian fever. Having withdrawn to Gazuol, a place not very far from the Po, he is treated with all care by able physicians, and hopes soon to recover; his malady was redoubled through anxiety. Have desired the whole army to cross, and continue its march in favour of the Pope and the Florentines as necessary. The Count of Gaiaza (sic), who served the Imperialists throughout the present war, has lately gone over to the Pope, taking with him 130 horse and 1,200 infantry, all picked troops; by reason of his valour and skill this is a good thing. To communicate the whole to the King and Cardinal. Letters from Rome, dated the 23rd, inform them that Sir John Russell, who was present at the above written negotiation of the truce, is coming in haste to Venice.


  • 1. The foregoing letter, although anonymous, was evidently written by Soardino, the Mantuan envoy at the Court of Charles V.
  • 2. In the Russell correspondence (“State Papers,” vol. vi., part 5.) this accident is not recorded.