Venice: August 1554, 16-20

Pages 531-567

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 5, 1534-1554. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1873.

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August 1554, 16–20

Aug. 18. Senato Mar, v. xxxii. p. 159. Sermus princeps, Consiliarij Cap. de XL., Sap. T. F. Sap. Ordinum. 933. Confirmation of Grants made by King Edward and Queen Mary to the Ambassador Soranzo.
By the report (relatione) of Giacomo Soranzo, knight, lately returned from his embassy to England, the Senate has heard of the gracious and loving demonstrations made towards him, both by the late most Serene King Edward, and by the most Serene Queen. The former, when he knighed Soranzo, gave him his royal badge; (fn. 1) and the latter, on his departure from England, gave him a chain, as customary with regard to other ambassadors from the Signory. The aforesaid nobleman having been obliged to incur great expense for the honour and dignity of the State, both at the Queen's coronation and also in consequence of the changes and disturbances which occurred several times in England during his 41 months embassy there, the scarcity of everything having been constant and excessive, it becomes the Republic to exercise towards the said ambassador their usual liberality, both as a mark and testimony that his toil and service have been agreeable to them, as also that it may serve as an example for other ambassadors, to sustain their grade with dignity, and to the honour of the Signory:
Put to the ballot,—
That the aforesaid gifts be freely given, by authority of this Council, to their ambassador aforesaid, as conceded to others in similar cases.
Ser Philippus Foscari, Sap. Cons.
Ser Aloysius Mocenico, Eqs. Sap. T.F.
Ser Hierons. Venerio, Sap. Ordinum. 1554 die 18 Augti. in Collegio existente in Exmo. Senatu.
Ayes, 181. Noes, 29. Neutrals, 6.
24 — 1 — 0 4/5, expulsis affinibus.
Aug. 18. Report of England, MS. no. 1,072, in the Correr Museum. 934. Report of England made to the Senate by Giacomo Soranzo, late Ambassador to Edward VI. and Queen Mary.
The business of the Signory's ambassadors consists chiefly in three things: in the diligent execution of the commissions received by them, in sending detailed and speedy advices of what occurs in the courts where they reside, and in acquainting the Senate on their return with whatever may be worth knowing; so having been ambassador to King Edward VI., and after his death to Queen Mary, for the term in all of 41 months, (fn. 2) and having to the best of his ability done what was required touching the two first points, will allude to them no further, save inasmuch as shall be necessary, and coming to the third, will divide it into three principal parts. In the first, will tell of the Queen's qualities, and with what difficulty she obtained the crown, and will also speak of her nearest kindred. In the second, will tell of her realms, and military and naval forces, and of her revenues and expenditure. In the last, will speak of the mode of government, both with regard to church, realm, and state, and conclude with a few remarks about her Majesty's understanding with such neighbouring foreign powers as trade with England.
Personal description of Queen Mary. The most Serene Madame Mary is entitled Queen of England and of France, and Defendress (Difensora) of the Faith. She was born on the 18th February 1515, so she yesterday completed her 38th year and six months. She is of low stature, with a red and white complexion, and very thin; her eyes are white (fn. 3) and large, and her hair reddish; her face is round, with a nose rather low and wide (largo); and were not her age on the decline she might be called handsome (bella) rather than the contrary. She is not of a strong constitution, and of late she suffers from headache and serious affection of the heart (grave passione, di cuore) [query, physical palpitation of the heart, or mental anxiety], so that she is often obliged to take medicine, and also to be blooded. She is of very spare diet, and never eats until 1 or 2 p.m., although she rises at daybreak, when, after saying her prayers and hearing mass in private, she transacts business incessantly, until after midnight, when she retires to rest; for she chooses to give audience not only to all the members of her Privy Council, and to hear from them every detail of public business, but also to all other persons who ask it of her. Her Majesty's countenance indicates great benignity and clemency, which are not belied by her conduct, for although she has had many enemies, and though so many of them were by law condemned to death, yet had the executions depended solely on her Majesty's will, not one of them perhaps would have been enforced; but deferring to her Council in everything, she in this matter likewise complied with the wishes of others rather than with her own (ma deferendo lei ogni cosa al suo Conseio anco in questo ha più soddisfatto ad altri, che a se medesima). She is endowed with excellent ability, and more than moderately read in Latin literature, especially with regard to Holy Writ; and besides her native tongue she speaks Latin, French, and Spanish, and understands Italian perfectly, but does not speak it. She is also very generous, but not to the extent of letting it appear that she rests her chief claim to commendation on this quality.
She is so confirmed (firmata) in the Catholic religion that although the King her brother and his Council prohibited her from having the mass celebrated according to the Roman Catholic ritual, she nevertheless had it performed in secret, nor did she ever choose by any act to assent to any other form of religion, her belief in that in which she was born being so strong that had the opportunity offered she would have displayed it at the stake, her hopes being placed in God alone, so that she constantly exclaims: “In te Domine confido, non confundar in œternum: si Deus est pro nobis, quis contra nos ?” Her Majesty takes pleasure in playing on the lute and spinet, and is a very good performer on both instruments; and indeed before her accession she taught many of her maids of honour (molte sue damigelle). But she seems to delight above all in arraying herself elegantly and magnificently, and her garments are of two sorts; the one, a gown such as men wear, but fitting very close, with an under-petticoat which has a very long train; and this is her ordinary costume, being also that of the gentlewomen of England. The other garment is a gown and boddice, with wide hanging sleeves (con le maniche larghe rovesciate) in the French fashion, which she wears on state occasions; and she also wears much embroidery, and gowns and mantles (sopravvesti) of cloth of gold and cloth of silver, of great value, and changes every day. She also makes great use of jewels, wearing them both on her chaperon and round her neck, and as trimming for her gowns; in which jewels she delights greatly, and although she has a great plenty of them left her by her predecessors, yet were she better supplied with money than she is, she would doubtless buy many more.
Account of the repudiation by Henry VIII. of Katharine of Arragon. Her Majesty's father was the most serene King Henry VIII, and her mother the most serene Katharine, daughter of King Ferdinand, the Catholic, of Spain, and sister of the Emperor's mother; and therefore on her Majesty's birth, the King her father proclaimed her heiress of the realm, although shortly after, she was bastardized, the cause being, that after the King her father had cohabited during 20 consecutive years with the Queen her mother in the most complete love and concord, he became enamoured of a damsel in the Queen's service, an English girl, by name Anne Boleyn, and wishing to enjoy her, not merely as his mistress, but if possible as his wife, his flatterers, and principally the Cardinal of York, at that time the King's chief favourite, and who was unfriendly towards the Queen, had it represented to him by his Confessor that his marriage with Queen Katharine was invalid, she having previously been the wife of his brother Prince Arthur. The King, therefore, although he had had a dispensation from Pope Julius, empowering him to contract this marriage, did nevertheless not scruple to send ambassadors to Pope Clement, to hear his opinion, whether this marriage was valid or not; hoping that as the Pope was then at enmity with the Emperor, he would favour his wishes; and his Holiness gave such ear to this matter, that, according to the English, he encouraged almost certain hope that the divorce would take place; but a little later, the Pope having come to a better understanding with the Emperor, by reason of the assistance rendered for the enterprise against Florence by his Imperial Majesty, who made great suit in favour of Queen Katharine, the Pope sent Cardinal Campeggio to London, in order that, together with the Cardinal of York, he might settle the difficulty; but the King and Queen not agreeing to [abide by] the sentence (ma non s' accordando il Re et la Regina del giudizio) Cardinal Campeggio went back without any decision, although, had they agreed to accept the award, the Queen would have consented to the divorce, provided the King took oath, that the first time he consummated marriage with her, he had not found her a virgin; (fn. 4) offering moreover to prove that long before the death of Prince Arthur, he was known to be consumptive, and of so bad a constitution, that although they lived five months together, he had been unable to consummate marriage with her.
The title of “Supreme Head.” On the return to Rome, therefore, of Cardinal Campeggio, the Pope had the King summoned to restore the Queen—from whom he was already separated—to her matrimonial rights (alla coniuntione maritale), but the King not only refused obedience, but repudiated the Queen entirely; and celebrated his marriage with Anne, and had her crowned, causing his daughter, the Lady Mary, to be declared a bastard, and therefore deprived of the succession to the Crown; on which account, the Pope having excommunicated him, he withdrew his obedience from his Holiness and the. Church; and Parliament declared him Supreme Head of the Church of England and Ireland, which title he subsequently held until his death, as did his son Edward likewise. Her present Majesty resigned the title, but when she wished Parliament to pass an Act rescinding it from the Crown, the bill was rejected, it being merely carried that she was at liberty to assume the title or not, in order not utterly to deprive her successors of it, as written by me to your Serenity after the first coronation. (fn. 5)
Not long after the marriage of Anne Boleyn, the Lady Elizabeth was born, and immediately declared heir to the Crown, in which grade she remained a very short time, because her mother being beheaded on suspicion of adultery, she in like manner was deposed from the succession, and proclaimed a bastard.
Henry VIII.'s will. Subsequently in 1547, the late King Edward being 10 years old, his father, by reason of his great corpulence, having little hope of life, and wishing to make his last testament, assembled Parliament, and made it pass an Act, whereby he was given liberty, notwithstanding a law to the contrary, to institute his daughters heirs to the Crown in case his son should be childless; and this he had done, as by the statutes of the realm bastards cannot succeed to the Crown; so he made his will, leaving the kingdom to Edward, on condition that, should he die without children, the Lady Mary was to succeed him, provided she had not married, save with the consent of his Council; and in case she also should leave no legitimate heirs, she was to be succeeded by the Lady Elizabeth, who, if she also died childless, was to be succeeded by the Lady Jane, eldest daughter of the Duchess of Suffolk, late Queen widow of France, King Henry's sister; and after the Lady Jane, she not having children, her two other sisters, one after the other, were to succeed, and in the event of their leaving no children, the Crown was to pass to the Lady Margaret, daughter of the Lady Eleanor Countess of Cumberland, second daughter of the Lady Mary, late Queen widow of France aforesaid.
Accession of Edward VI. On the death of King Henry he was succeeded by King Edward, a youth of very handsome presence, with which his mental endowments corresponded. Whilst under the guardianship of his uncle, the Duke of Somerset, he attended to his studies with marvellous success, learning not only Latin but Greek likewise, though when the government was changed and Somerset replaced by the Duke of Northumberland, (fn. 6) who was a soldier at heart and by profession, he changed the King's studies accordingly, and had him taught to ride and handle his weapons, and to go through other similar exercises, so that his Majesty soon commenced arming and tilting, managing horses, and delighting in every sort of exercise, drawing the bow, playing rackets, hunting, and so forth, indefatigably, though he never neglected his studies.
By these means the Duke obtained great favour with him, and to gain him more completely not only caused entertainments to be made for his diversion, but supplied him freely with money, appointing a Lord Privy Purse (un tesoriero suo proprio), recommending him to make presents, and show that he was King; but what mattered more, he made him acquainted with all public business, and chose to have his opinion, in such wise that his commands might then be executed without delay. (fn. 7) But although his Majesty seemed much satisfied with this proceeding on the part of the Duke, yet such was the excellence of his natural disposition that he would never do any act, either of grace or justice, without the approval of his Council, by which means he became so popular with his councillors and the whole country that there is perhaps no instance on record of any other King of that age being more beloved, or who gave greater promise, his Majesty's obstinate adherence to the heresy, alone detracting from so many merits, though for this also he may be excused as he was educated according: to its precepts.
His illness. Last year, however, precisely at the moment when it was hoped he would commence ruling in person, he was seized with a malady, which the physicians soon knew to be consumption (fu conosciuta essere da etico), and in a few days his life was despaired of.
His will. Thereupon, the Duke of Northumberland, whose mode of proceeding had rendered him all powerful with the King, devised a plan, whereby, in the event of the well nigh certain death of his Majesty, the kingdom was to pass into Northumberland's own hands; and his first act was to obtain from the King that the Duke of Suffolk should give his eldest daughter, Lady Jane Grey, in marriage to Northumberland's fourth son, Guildford Dudley, the only one of his five sons then unmarried. Thus was it done, and after performance of the marriage ceremony, with a display truly regal, his Majesty becoming daily worse, they persuaded him to make a will, representing to him that the King, his father, had acted illegally by making the will he did, as bastards may not succeed to the Crown; and if the King obtained this from Parliament it was an unlawful act, as, without legitimate cause, Parliament could not deprive the legitimate line of the succession, so that the Act, to the prejudice of the Lady Jane, was null, she being the next legitimate heir after King Edward; in addition to which, the Lady Mary having chosen to persist in her old opinion about the religion, and having thus disobeyed the decrees of Parliament and of his Majesty himself, she deserved on this account likewise to forfeit the succession; and, moreover, as neither Mary nor Elizabeth (ne l' una ne l' altra) had a husband, it might easily come to pass that they would marry an alien, and place the country under foreign jurisdiction, she [Mary] having clearly demonstrated how little love she bore the English nation. The King being moved by these arguments, but yet more by his wish to oblige Northumberland in everything, made his testament, instituting Lady Jane Grey his heir, and having summoned all his councillors, announced his will (volontà) to them, making them read his testament, which he then signed with his own hand, and had it sealed with the great seal of the realm, ordering all the councillors to sign it in like manner, as they did, immediately; and a few days afterwards, namely on the 6th July 1553, he died at the age of 14 years, eight months, and 28 days, having reigned about six years.
The Duke of Northumberland's relations with Princess Mary. In the mean while, Northumberland did not fail doing his utmost to ensure the success of this great scheme, endeavouring, above all, that his negotiations should be kept very secret, and especially from the Lady Mary (notwithstanding which they were known to him, Soranzo, who gave a detailed account of them to the Signory); (fn. 8) and having by divers means contrived to enjoy no less credit with the Lady Mary than with the King, he imagined that by continuing to perform similar offices he should convince her of his good will, and retain his influence. Amongst other things he gave her to understand that, without any doubt, she would be Queen, although but few of the members of the Council wished it, but he, on the contrary, would risk his life and whatever else he had for her service. He thus convinced her so completely, and so secured her favour, that, although those who really wished her to be Queen knew of the Duke's deceit, having discovered his intrigues, yet did they not dare divulge anything to the Lady Mary from fear, lest, instead of providing for her own safety, she might reveal everything to him, and thus ruin them completely; but, by secret means, having let her know how the plot was proceeding, they suggested that she could do nothing more advantageous for herself than to simulate with the Duke, and evince greater trust in him than ever, as he would thus feel sure, whereas any fear of detection might make him seek to guard himself against her by some worse means.
Mary's proceedings on Edward's death. Her Majesty—as it pleased God—gave ear to the warning of her friends, and followed their advice to the letter; so Northumberland, thinking he could get possession of her whenever he pleased, did not change his conduct towards the Lady Mary, whose friends however, considering all that might occur, contrived when the King was at the point of death to let her know it; whereupon, although it was night, she took flight with six attendants, including two of her maids of honour, and went to Norwich, where having been refused admittance, she stopped a short way off; and although without money or other aid, she nevertheless in a few days mustered an army of 30,000 men, and formed a council from amongst the most faithful of those adherents who joined her.
Lady Jane at the Tower; Proclamation of Queen Mary. On the other hand, shortly after the King's death, Northumberland sent to arrest her, but she was gone, and at the very moment when he took Lady Jane to the Tower, as is usually done to those who are to be crowned, news reached him that the Lady Mary had commenced mustering an army, and in many places had been proclaimed Queen, and hearing that her forces increased he determined to march against them in person, but could not raise more than 2,000 horse and foot; so the Lords (Signori) in the Tower with Lady Jane became alarmed, especially on perceiving how dissatisfied the city of London was; and when they heard that eight of the largest ships had gone over from the Duke to the Lady Mary, giving her all their guns and ammunition, they quitted the Tower, leaving the Lady Jane a prisoner there, issuing also an order for the Duke's arrest; and having assembled in the house of the Earl of Pembroke they immediately proclaimed the Lady Mary Queen. This took place on the 19th July 1553, when her Majesty's proclamation took place to the great joy of the people, which was evinced to the utmost by bell-ringing, bonfires and shouts of applause; so that in those few days she settled the business, and on the 3rd of August following, made her entry into London with 1,000 horse, being met by all the ambassadors including him (Soranzo), who went towards her a distance of 10 miles from London, with 150 mounted attendants. On the 22nd of August she had Northumberland beheaded on the scaffold as usual at Tower Hill, and on the 1st of October she was crowned by the Bishop of Winchester.
Mary's relations with Elizabeth; Charges against Elizabeth. Immediately after this ceremony she assembled Parliament, and forthwith repealed the Acts passed at the instigation of her father, concerning the divorce from Queen Katharine, so that the marriage being declared valid, Her Majesty remained legitimate daughter, the-Lady Elizabeth being consequently bastardized, because born in the life-time of the Catholic Queen (della Regina Cattolica). From that time forth a great change took place in Queen Mary's treatment of her, for whereas until then she had shown her every mark of honour, especially by always placing her beside her when she appeared in public, so did she now by all her actions show that she held her in small account. This disquieting her Excellency, she asked leave to go to her country house [Ashridge], and although some persons were of opinion that the Queen should have refused it, Her Majesty, not loving her (as she had demonstrated by very clear signs, even in the lifetime of King Edward) (come con molti assai chiari segni ne havea dimostrato anco in vita del Re Eduardo), granted the permission. After Wyatt's insurrection (la sollevazione di Wiel—sic), she was accused of being his accomplice; so both on this account, and also by reason of some suspicion of a matrimonial alliance between her and Courtenay, Earl of Devon, she was sent for to London, although indisposed, and after remaining under custody for a few days in the Queen's palace [at Whitehall], she was at length taken to the Tower. But what perhaps gave more cause for suspicion than anything else, was, that at the time of these insurrections the French ambassador being strongly suspected of having an understanding with the rebels, the Council seized a packet of letters which he was sending to France, and in it they found the copy of a letter sent a few days previously to the Queen by the Lady Elizabeth, in reply to a certain communication made to her by her Majesty about the marriage with the Prince of Spain; and as it contained certain words to which a suspicious meaning was attributed, they inferred that she herself had given the copy to the ambassador for the King, by reason of her secret. understanding with him. But although her Excellency confuted all these charges, yet was she not set quite at liberty, for on being released from the Tower, they took her to a palace [Woodstock], where she is in the custody of certain gentlewomen sent by the Queen to keep her company. (fn. 9)
Personal description of Elizabeth. She was the daughter of Henry VIII. and Queen Anne Boleyn, and was born on the 7th September 1533, so she is now about twenty-one years old; her figure and face are very handsome, and such an air of dignified majesty pervades all her actions that no one can fail to suppose she is a queen (è di corpo et di faccia molto bella et disposta con una si grave maestà in tutte le sue operazioni, che non è alcuna che non la giudichi Regina). She is a good Greek and Latin scholar, and besides her native tongue she speaks Latin, French, Spanish, and Italian most perfectly (benissimo); and her manners are very modest and affable (et è di costumi molto modesti et umani). During the life-time of King Edward she held (tenne) his opinion about the religion, but since the Queen's accession she has adapted herself to the will of her Majesty.
Lady Jane's sisters. According to the will of King Henry, the next in succession after the Lady Elizabeth were the daughters of the Duchess of Suffolk, the eldest of whom, Lady Jane Grey, having been beheaded, two remain, the eldest of them having been promised to the eldest son of the Earl of Pembroke, a most powerful and popular nobleman; but as he knows that this alliance could but cause him great embarrassment, by reason of the marriage of Philip and Mary, he was on the point of breaking it off when he (Soranzo) left England. According to this same will, the next in succession to the crown after the ladies Grey, would be the Countess of Cumberland, (fn. 10) who is not yet married, but holds place in the Queen's privy chamber (ma è delta camera segreta delta Regina).
Description of Courtenay. The next in blood to the crown is Courtenay, Earl of Devon, descended from a younger daughter of Edward IV.; he is twenty-nine years old, and when his father, the Marquis of Exeter, was beheaded on the charge of having had an understanding with Cardinal Pole, this son of his was also put in the Tower, where he remained fifteen years, but the present Queen released him and restored the earldom, with 15,000 ducats revenue, supposing that he was to marry her; but after the stipulation of the marriage with the Prince of Spain, being suspected of complicity with the Kentish insurgents, Courtenay was again sent to the Tower, but as there were no proofs against him they took him out and placed him in a palace under custody of some gentlemen sent by the Queen. (fn. 11) He is of well proportioned frame (di corpo ben disposto), has had a very good literary education, and speaks several languages, but having been so long in prison he has neither that spirit nor experience which his position would require.
Mary Queen of Scots. The kingdom of Scotland is held by Queen Mary, of the Stuart family, sole heir of her father King James, son of Queen Margaret, the eldest sister of Henry VIII.; so that had Lady Jane Grey remained Queen, the Queen of Scotland being descended from the elder sister, and Lady Jane from the younger, she would have had a strong claim, although not mentioned in King Henry's will.
Queen Mary of Scotland, being now twelve years old, is out of her minority, during which she was under the guardianship of the Earl of Arran, who is also styled Duke of Chatelherault, in right of a duchy given him by the King of France. On the death of the King of Scotland, Arran assumed the government as next of kin to the crown, according to the national law, the post being tenable during the Queen's minority, with power to dispose of all the revenues of the country, and of everything else, without rendering any account; and although it was supposed that he would make a difficulty about resigning his trust, he nevertheless retired a few months ago, as Soranzo wrote to the Senate; (fn. 12) and the young Queen appointed as Regent her mother, the Queen Dowager Mary, sister of the Duke de Guise, and she is now in Scotland and rules it, the Queen Regnant being in France, the affianced wife of the Dauphin, she having been taken thither chiefly by the will and exertion (industria) of her mother, who well knew that many of the Scots were inclined to marry her to King Edward of England, as had been already promised him. The fortresses are all in the hands of the French or of the Queen Dowager, who being a Frenchwoman, it may be said that everything is in the power of his most Christian Majesty, who keeps some thousand infantry there as garrison, that force being sufficient, as in two days they can send over as many troops as they please.
Description of Scotland. The kingdom is almost all mountainous and marshy, and the climate very cold, so the soil produces but little grain or fruit, and no grapes, but abounds in fish and animals for the use of man, especially in sheep, which yield very fine wool, though but little of it is manufactured at home, it being exported for the most part to France and Denmark, from which countries they import such commodities as they stand most in need of. The kingdom is divided into twelve bishoprics, the chief of which is St. Andrews, and twelve counties, which are well peopled, as the Kings of Scotland have often brought armies of 30,000 men into the field, for the most part against their natural enemies, the English, because Scotland being very poor, and England plentifully supplied, the Scots have always invaded the country, carrying off great booty, this discord being fomented by France; and by donatives and privileges they have induced the French always to prefer the Scottish alliance to that of England. Part of these Scots are savages (di questa gente ne sono parte de salvatici), and those who are the most civilized either reside at the court or are on the borders of England. The Scots are rigid Catholics (sono molto osservanti della Religione Cattolica) nor is there public heresy of any sort amongst them. Such is the poverty of the county that the royal revenues do not amount to 100,000 ducats.
Wars of the Roses. The other three parts of the island are held by the most serene Queen of England, as they were by her predecessors, commencing with William the Conqueror; that is to say, from] 067 down to the present time, the Crown having always been in that descent, although there have been many wars, and especially those which originated with the sons of Edward III., the one, Duke of York, from whom the House of York sprang; and the other, Duke of Lancaster, who founded the Lancastrian family; the first bearing on their shield the white rose, the second the red. Finally, after much bloodshed, the Crown passing from one side to the other, and the male line of the then reigning King Edward IV. of the white rose, becoming extinct, there remaining only daughters, the eldest of them was given in marriage to Henry Earl of Richmond, the sole remaining heir of the red rose, who afterwards became Henry VII., grandfather of the present Queen; so these two families were again united, and her Majesty is thus the legitimate heir of both. (fn. 13)
Description of England; The “Sweating Sickness,” 1551. The air of England is thick (l'aere di questo regno è grosso), so it often generates clouds, wind, and rain, but in calm weather the climate is so temperate that the extremes of heat and cold are rarely felt, and never last long, so that persons clad in fur may be seen all the year round. They have some little plague in England well nigh every year, for which they are not accustomed to make sanitary provisions, as it does not usually make great progress; the cases for the most part occur amongst the lower classes, as if their dissolute mode of life (il disordinato lor vivere) impaired their constitutions; but in 1551, the first year of Soranzo's residence in England, there was an atmospheric putrescence (una corruzione di acre) which produced the disease called “the Sweat,” which, according to general report, was never known in other countries, and only twice before in England, at intervals of upwards of 20 years; it commenced in Wales, and then traversed the whole kingdom, the mortality being immense amongst persons of every condition, save that children under 10 years of age did not seem subject to this epidemic (questo influsso). The malady was a most profuse sweat, which without any other indisposition seized patients by the way (per via), and the remedies at first administered taking no effect they died in a few hours, so that during the three first days of its appearance there died in London alone upwards of 5,000 persons, (fn. 14) but some remedy having been devised subsequently, it ceased in 20 days. The alarm, however was great and universal, especially at the courts [of the King and the Princesses and Anne of Cleves ?], some of the King's chamber attendants having died, so that his Majesty and all who could made their escape, all business being suspended, the shops closed, and nothing attended to, but the preservation of life.
Grain; Process of brewing; Fish. The soil, especially in England proper, produces wheat, oats, and barley, in such plenty that they have usually enough for their own consumption, but were they to work more diligently, and with greater skill, and bring the soil into higher cultivation, England might supply grain for exportation, (fn. 15) but they do not attend much to this, so that they sometimes need assistance both from Flanders and Denmark, and occasionally from France likewise. They grow no other sort of grain, and their only lentils (fn. 16) are beans and peas. Although they have vines they do not make wine of any sort, the plant serving as an ornament for their gardens rather than anything else, as the grapes do not ripen save in very small quantity, partly because the sun has not much power, and partly because precisely at the ripening season cold winds generally prevail, so that the grapes wither, but in lieu of wine they make beer, with wheat, barley, and hops, which [last ?] they import from Flanders, boiling all the ingredients together in water, and making it stronger or weaker by adding more wheat and less barley, and producing a contrary result by reversing the process. This potion (potione) is most palatable to them, and all persons drink it, even their sovereigns, although they also consume a great quantity of wine, which is brought from Candia, Spain, the Rhine, and from France, this last being prized more than the rest, but it is sold at a very high price, so that it is usually worth from 36 to 40 ducats per butt, and in his (Soranzo's) time it cost as much as 50. As there are no olive trees in England they import oil from Spain and the Venetian possessions, but the consumption is small, as for food they mostly use butter, and for the cloth manufactures rape oil, which is imported from Flanders and Spain. They have great plenty of white salt at home, and the black is brought from Normandy, nor is there any salt duty. They have abundance of fish, both from the ocean and the Thames, of the same sort as is common in Venice, but they have also salmon, a fish not found in Italy. They have an immense quantity of oysters, so that occasionally as many as 20 smacks (scute) are seen filled with them, but during four months in the summer it is forbidden either to take or sell them.
Pasturage; Wool and hides; Lead and tin. The country is almost all level, with few rivers and springs, and such hills as they have are not very high, and one advantage of the climate is that the grass remains green at all seasons, affording excellent pasturage for animals, especially for sheep, of which there is an incredible number, supplying that wool which is in such universal repute under the name of “Frankish “ (Francesco), the French having been the first to bring it into Italy. Great part of this wool is manufactured in England, where cloths and kerseys of various sorts are wrought, which amount annually to 150,000 pieces of cloths of all sorts, and 150,000 pieces of kersey, the rest of the wool being exported, and taken usually to Calais on account of the staplers, who then sell it on the spot, and have the monoply of the wool exports from England, though occasionally export-permits are conceded by favour to other persons, though the staplers do their utmost to prevent it. The quantity of unwrought wool exported is said to amount to about 2,000 tons (4 mille migliara) [annually]; they also export hides (fn. 17) to the value of 500,000 ducats. In Cornwall they have lead and tin mines, from which they extract metal in great quantity, and of such good quality that the like is not to be found elsewhere. For some time they have not exported much lead because permits are refused, but they export annually from five to six thousand weight (per 5m in 6m de grezi) of unwrought tin, and to the value of 100,000 ducats in the wrought metal, the greater part to Spain.
Iron and coal. In Derbyshire there are some iron mines, but in small quantity, but none of gold nor of silver.
In the north towards Scotland they find a certain sort of earth well nigh mineral, and which burns like charcoal, and is extensively used, especially by blacksmiths, and but for a certain bad odour which it leaves it would be yet more employed, as it gives great heat (facendo gran satione) and costs little.
Description of London. The principal cities of the kingdom are London and York, but London is the most noble, both on account of its being the royal residence, and because the river Thames runs through it, very much to the convenience and profit of the inhabitants, as it ebbs and flows every six hours like the sea, scarcely ever causing inundation or any extraordinary floods; and up to London Bridge it is navigable for ships of 400 butts burden, of which a great plenty arrive with every sort of merchandise. This bridge connects the city with the borough, and is built of stone with twenty arches, and shops on both sides. On the banks of the river there are many large palaces, making a very fine show, but the city is much disfigured by the ruins of a multitude of churches and monasteries belonging heretofore to friars and nuns. It has a dense population, said to number 180,000 souls; and is beyond measure commercial, the merchants of the entire kingdom flocking thither, as, by a privilege conceded to the citizens of London, from them alone can they purchase merchandise (“altri che loro non possono comprare che essi cittadini “), so they soon become very wealthy; and the same privileges placed in their hands the government of the city of London, which is divided into 24 trades (arti) or crafts (mestieri), each of which elects a certain individual, styled alderman, the election being made solely in the persons of those who are considered the most wealthy, and the office is for life; the which aldermen, after assembling these trades, create annually a person as their head for the current year entitled Mayor, and they call him Lord, which, signifies signor; and he assumes the magistracy on the day of Saints Simon and Jude, on which day he goes to the court and swears allegiance to the King, and then gives a banquet to the ambassadors and lords, and to the judges of the city and others, in such number, that in one and the same hall upwards of a thousand persons sit down to table, all being served at the same time with the most perfect order. The Lord Mayor is always preceded by the sword in virtue of the privilege conceded to the city for its deserts in 1190 by King Richard the First. This mayor usually keeps a most excellent (onoratissima) table with open doors, and in one year spends at least 4000 ducats out of his own purse; and on the expiration of his office he is for the most part knighted. His chief charge is to superintend the victualling department, to legislate for the populace in minor suits, and to have care for the custody of the city by day and night, the keys of its gates being in his possession.
Description of English men and women. The English for the most part are of Handsome stature and sound constitution, with red or white complexions, their eyes also being white. According to their station they are all as well clad as any other nation whatever. The dress of the men resembles the Italian fashion, and that of the women the French.
The nobility. The nobility are by nature very courteous, especially to foreigners, who however are treated with very great arrogance and enmity by the people, it seeming to them that the profit derived by the merchants from their country is so much taken from them, and they imagine that they could live without foreign intercourse. They are also by nature of little faith both towards their sovereigns and with each other, and are therefore very suspicious. The nobility, save such as are employed at Court, do not habitually reside in the cities, but in their own country mansions, where they keep up very grand establishments, both with regard to the great abundance of eatables consumed by them, as also by reason of their numerous attendants, in which they exceed all other nations, so that the Earl of Pembroke has upwards of 1,000 clad in his own livery. In these their country residences they occupy themselves with hunting of every description, and with whatever else can amuse or divert them; so that they seem wholly intent on leading a joyous existence, the women also being no less sociable than the men, it being customary for them and allowable to go without any regard (rispetto) either alone or accompanied by their husbands to the taverns, and to dine and sup where they please.
War and literature. The English do not delight much either in military pursuits (armi) or literature, which last, most especially by the nobility, is not held in much account, and they have scarcely any opportunity for occupying themselves with the former, save in time of war, and when that is ended they think no more about them, but in battle they show great courage and great presence of mind (prontezza) in danger, but they require to be largely supplied with victuals; so it is evident that they cannot endure much fatigue.
The claim of English Kings to the Crown of France; Calais and Guisnes. Her Majesty's second title is Queen of France, and as the Crown has held it for a long while, I will not omit telling your Lordships how her predecessors became possessed of it. In 1303 King Edward II. (sic) married Isabel, daughter of Charles (sic) (fn. 18) the handsome King of France, who leaving no other heir than his daughter, King Edward sent an ambassador to France to demand possession of the kingdom which fell to him by inheritance; and this being denied in virtue solely of a law called “Salic,” whereby to this day in France, females are excluded from the succession to the Crown, King Edward [III.] assembled Parliament, which declared him legitimate King of France, and for its recovery determined on war, which having lasted more than a century, Henry V., after obtaining many victories over the French, at length in 1419 espoused Catherine, daughter of Charles VI., King of France, on condition that after the death of her father, he and his descendants were to inherit the kingdom, the Dauphin Charles, the King's son, being deprived of it; but Henry V. dying before his father-in-law, his son Henry VI. went to Paris at the age of nine years, and was crowned King of France, as at home he had been already crowned King of England; but not long afterwards Charles the Dauphin aforesaid recovered the kingdom, in which nothing remains to the Kings of England but the title and the claim, and they now merely possess Calais and Guisnes, on the borders of Picardy, in the county of Artois, which two places are very strong, and most especially Calais, which besides having double walls and being very strong and close to the sea side, can at the flood tide inundate the whole of the surrounding country; and to dam the water there, they have made certain locks (chiavi), whereby to let it flow when necessary, with a fortress for their defence. These places are admirably garrisoned by a good number of horse and foot, and also well supplied with everything necessary, as becoming, the English having no other places than these beyond sea, so that were they to lose them they would no longer be able to cross the Channel as they do at present, for from Dover to Calais, which are the usual passage ports, the distance is but thirty miles.
Account of Ireland. Her Majesty s third title is Queen of Ireland, of which the English Crown has possessed a part from 1171 down to the present time, as Henry II. having prepared a very powerful fleet for the invasion of the island, the greater part of those who held it surrendered themselves to him, they being then all savages, and made the surrender on the condition that it was to be deemed valid when confirmed by the Pope, whom they said they acknowledged as their sole superior. His Holiness ratified the surrender, because the island not being well instructed in matters relating to the Christian religion, he thought it might in this way be better disciplined. This island is not more than 30 (sic) miles distant from England. Its length from north to south is 300 miles, and its breadth 90.
The Irish; O'Neil. The climate of Ireland is very temperate, and its soil would be productive if better cultivated. In many respects it very much resembles England, save that it is rather more hilly, and abounds more in springs (fonti). It is said to produce no venomous animals, and that any taken thither would not live. There are large flocks of sheep there, and other animals for the use of man, so that it yields a good quantity of wool and many hides (cuori). The wool is not so fine as that of England. The men for the most part are still in great part wild (selvaggi) [savages]; but those subject to the English are generally more civilised, and by degrees adapt themselves more and more to the mode of life in England. The wild Irish (li selvaggi) generally go barefoot both summer and winter, and clothe themselves in a long linen shirt, dyed in saffron; this garment (which they rarely change, wearing it for the most part until in tatters) reaches the ground, and over it they wear a coarse cloth mantle; the women also clothe themselves in like manner; and although they acknowledge the distinction between noble and plebeian, yet do all classes dress alike. They inhabit their country houses, and eat under-done meat (came sangui-nosa), roasted on a long spit, or boiled in an ox-hide, seasoned according to their own fashion. They are naturally very religious and Catholic, so that in the time of King Edward there were several rebellions, which although suppressed at the time have again broken out; and the majority of the population refuse obedience to the Queen, and govern themselves under a chieftain called the Great O'Neil, whom they talk of making their king. The principal towns, the chief of which is Dublin, remain in the hands of the Queen, but the country has almost entirely rebelled, and last winter, when some troops were sent for its recovery, they failed completely. Since then nothing more has been done, save that the government is endeavouring to bring them back to their allegiance by negotiation, and by so much the more as without a preponderating force coercion would be vain, as the Irish are a very warlike race, who set but little value on their lives; and when they take the field the cavalry wear shirts of mail, and the infantry raise their linen garment up to the waist (sino alla Centura), fastening their shirt sleeves at the shoulder, and carry two or three javelins (dardi), which they hurl wonderfully, and they are also girt some with a sword and others with a hatchet. The Queen has a Viceroy there, who has his court at Dublin, with a good number of horse and foot, besides a few armed ships as circumstances may require.
Title of Defender of the Faith. Her Majesty is also Defendress (Difensora) of the Faith, which title her father had from Pope Leo X., because in 1521, his Majesty having composed a very Catholic book in explanation (in dichiaratione) of the sacraments, (fn. 19) and in defence of the Catholic religion, against Martin Luther, he sent it to his Holiness, who having had it read in Consistory, and approving of it greatly, it was determined to give his Majesty and his successors the aforesaid title, as was done.
Order of the Garter. Nor here will I omit telling also of the Order of the Garter, of which the Kings of England are entitled Grand Masters (Sovrani). This is an order of knighthood such as the Emperor's “Golden Fleece “ for the House of Burgundy, and the French King's “St. Michael.” The Order of the Garter was instituted in 1350 by King Edward III., owing to the following circumstance :—Whilst dancing with a lady his mistress, one of her leg-bands called in English “Garter “ fell to the ground, and the King himself picked it up to give it her, which causing a general laugh, and confusion to the lady, the King girt it round his own leg, saying that he would make that band, or one like it, the most honourable thing in his kingdom; and thus did he institute this order of knighthood, under the patronage of St. George, the knights to be in number 25, besides the King, their Grand Master; the regulation being, that round the neck they were to wear a St. George on horseback in armour, and on the left leg below the knee a riband with a golden buckle, inscribed with a French motto, thus, “Oni soit qui mal pense,” signifying in Italian “Shame to evil thinkers” (vituperato sia chi mal pensa), which all the knights observe inviolably. The ceremony of the Order is performed annually on St. George's day, and for the most part at Windsor Castle, 20 miles from London, where there is a most beautiful church (chiesa) built for this purpose, in which the arms of all the knights are placed, they on that occasion appearing in the robes of the Order, namely, a blue mantle lined with white satin, with a crimson velvet hood on the right shoulder, and on the left they wear a garter embroidered circularly, with a red cross in its centre; and under the mantle they wear a vest (una suttana) of crimson velvet; and a rapier at their side; and round the neck the grand emblem (l' ordine grande) in gold, with the St. George pendent. The names of these knights are as follows:—The Grand Master, who is the most Serene Prince of Spain, now King of England and Consort of the Queen; the Emperor, the King of France, the King of the Romans, the Duke of Montmorency, Grand Constable of France, the Duke of Norfolk, the Marquis of Winchester, the Earl of Arundel, the Earl of Derby, the Earl of Sussex, Lord Wilton, the Earl of Bedford, the Earl of Pembroke, the Earl of Westmoreland, the Earl of Hertford, Lord Clinton, Lord Darcy, Lord Cobham, the Lord Warden?, (Lord Guardori), Lord La Warr, Lord Paget, the Lord High Chamberlain (Earl of Oxford), Sir Anthony St. Leger; and there are two vacancies. Besides these Knights, there is also a Bishop, styled “the Prelate of the Garter” who is always the incumbent of the See of Winchester, and wears on his finger a ring bearing the same motto, and a buckle such as the knights wear on the leg.
Military resources. From her whole realm of England, as seen heretofore, the Queen might easily raise 100,000 men, taking at the muster those deemed fit for military service, and who would perform it spontaneously; but in case of war, it is not the custom to enroll every sort of person present at the muster, and from every district, but [merely] those nearest the scene of action. Besides this mode of enrolment, it is usual to order noblemen (signori) to collect such an amount of troops as required, which is done when the Crown does not trust everybody; and the third mode of mustering forces—in case of foreign invasion, or some sudden insurrection of the natives—is to place a light on the top of certain huge lanterns (lanternoni) fixed on heights in all the villages (in tutte le ville), on appearance of which signal anywhere, all the neighbouring places do the like, and the forces muster at the first sight, so in a short time the general muster is made, the remedy and assistance proving alike efficient.
Weapons; Archers. From the musters aforesaid some 15,000 horse might be raised, but the native English horse is not good for war, and they have not many foreign horses. The weapons used by the English are a spear, and not having much opportunity for providing themselves with body-armour, they wear, for the most part, breast-plates, with shirts of mail, and a skull cap (mezza lesta), and sword. The rest would be footmen, of which they have four sorts: the first, which in number and valour far excels the others, consists of archers, in whom the sinew of their armies consists, all the English being as it were by nature most expert bowmen, inasmuch as not only do they practise archery for their pleasure, but also to enable them to serve their King, so that they have often secured victory for the armies of England. The second sort consists of infantry (è dei fanti), who carry a sort of bill; and there are some of these likewise who would make good soldiers. The other two sorts are harque-busiers and pikemen, of which weapons they have very little experience.
Employment of German troops. The Crown has occasionally subsidized German troops, taking them for the most part from the sea towns, from which they have sometimes had as many as 10,000, and to continue these engagements they gave 2,000 ducats pension to a German colonel, by name Curtprenich (sic), who has many adherents, and resides at Hamburg. About four years ago it was determined to raise a cavalry force of 1,000 men-at-arms in the French fashion, but after keeping them for a year, at a cost to the King of 80,000 crowns, they were disbanded, it having been found impossible to make the plan answer. They have no commanders of note in their pay, either English or foreign, but merely give a few pensions to some who served them on former occasions; and as to the affairs of the militia, they being regulated as in other countries, it is unnecessary to allude to them.
Naval forces. Her Majesty's naval forces also are very considerable, as she has great plenty of English sailors, who are considered excellent for the navigation of the Atlantic (del mare oceano), and an abundance of timber for ship-building, as they do not use galleys, owing to the strong tide in the ocean. (fn. 20) Were her Majesty to take the vessels of ship-owners in all parts of the kingdom, the number would be immense; but she has only 80 of her own, including some galleons; and whenever she pleased, she could very easily obtain upwards of 150 (fn. 21) from private individuals, but small, as in those parts but few large ships are seen, and they say that those of 400 butts and under, sail better than the larger ones. The head of the naval affairs is the Admiral, he being one of the Lords of the Council, who, when a numerous fleet is fitted out, puts to sea in person, as he did this year, when he went out with 30 sail to secure the sea, and convey the most serene Prince of Spain on his coming; but when there is no such need, a Vice-admiral takes the command.
Want of commanders-in-chief. The most important deficiency in the great naval and military forces of England, is, that in the whole realm they have no persons, neither sailor nor soldier, capable of commanding either fleet or army. The only man they had was the Duke of Northumberland, who by his bravery distinguished himself in both capacities, and from the grade of a private gentleman (his father indeed was beheaded for treason by Henry VIII.) rose step by step through his abilities to the eminent position at length attained by him; but in like manner as the punishment of his rashness was well merited, so must the friends of England lament the loss of all his qualities with that single exception (così quelli che amavano quel regno desiderano ch el fusse stato quello ch' el era in tutte l' altre parti, fuorchè in quella).
Artillery. Her Majesty has a great quantity of very fine artillery, both in the fortresses beyond sea, as well as in many places within the realm, and especially at the Tower of London, where the ammunition of every sort is preserved.
Revenues of the Crown. Her Majesty's revenues from property belonging to the Crown itself, including that of the church which has been annexed to it, amounts to about a million of ducats, thus :—
The Crown of England, comprising the Duchy of Lancaster, and other sorts of property which have come to it, namely, lands, houses, and the like, derives annually Ducats 300,000
The duties, which they call “customs” yield “ 160,000
which shows very clearly how much her Majesty is defrauded by not farming them, instead of having them collected for her own account, as those who have the management of them take the opportunity of enriching themselves and assisting their friends.
From the Exchequer, whither contraband goods are taken, and where they receive the rents of confiscated estates, and other extraordinary revenues (et altri straordinarij) Ducats 100,000
From the Kingdom of Ireland—when pacific 30,000
Wardships. From the wardship of minors [Court of Wards] for estates held by them in fee from the Crown Ducats 60,000
which tax, intolerable for the subject, and now of no great advantage to the Crown, originated thus:—
Their origin; Abuses of the system of ward-ships. In the year 1270, Henry III., wishing to go for the recovery of the Holy Land, and being very poor, it was conceded him in aid that all persons holding estates in fee from the Crown, and leaving heirs male under 21 years of age, or females under 24, their estates, until they arrived at that age, were to belong to the Crown, and to be restored to the heirs when they attained their majority, his Majesty in the meanwhile being bound to have them in ward (nella sua guardia), taking care to have them reared and educated, according to the condition of their parents; nor could they even marry without the King's licence. At the commencement, this ordinance was very lucrative for the kings, and no less advantageous for the subjects, who, being well brought up, and on receiving their estates, finding them improved and augmented, had everything they desired. Subsequently, however, having commenced giving these wardships (queste guardie) to private individuals for good services rendered by them to the Crown, with the same conditions as observed by the kings, it being also customary to sell them, not only are the profits of the Crown reduced to little, but the estates of the wards in like manner go to ruin, as they are not only neglected by the private individuals who have them in charge, and care for nothing but their own advantage, omitting also such care as due for the education of the wards, who thus degenerate; but they, moreover, sell them licences to marry, patricians and plebeians thus intermarrying, which is most evidently injurious, especially because it debases the nobility. This dependency (obligazione) of minors is not only enforced with regard to those who hold Crown property, but has also been adopted of late by private individuals respecting their own estates, when they have to dispose of them (quando ne hanno a far dispensazione).
First fruits and tenths. There are also revenues of two sorts derived by the Crown from church property, one called the “first fruits” (le primizie), which is an annat levied by the Crown, time out of mind, on all vacant benefices; in addition to which, there is a tenth on church lands, which, whether held by prelates, or sold, or exchanged, all pay this tenth; from all which the Queen is supposed to derive
Ducats 300,000.
Monastic revenues. The remaining ecclesiastical revenue was obtained by Henry VIII., who, at the persuasion of Cromwell, then supreme ruler in England, having resolved no longer to have friars or nuns in his kingdom, not only expelled them, but ordered the destruction of all their monasteries and abbeys, which throughout the realm were in number 2,052, together with the greater part of the hospitals, colleges, and other pious institutions, scarcely anything but the parish churches remaining above ground, all which revenues he annexed to the Crown; and in order that every record or claim possessed by these institutions thus destroyed might perish eternally, all the deeds (scritture) relating to these monasteries were burned. From this property the King obtained a revenue amounting to 566,000 ducats; but his expenses increasing with his means, he and his son, King Edward, sold so much of this property as yielded 260,000 ducats annual rental, and the two together gave away as much more as amounted to 300,000 ducats per annum; so that from this source there remains to the Crown but from 50 to 60 thousand ducats annual revenue.
Church goods. King Henry also determined to despoil all the churches of their moveables, thus obtaining five millions of gold; and if any of this property remained after his death, it was taken during the protectorate of the Duke of Northumberland.
Mode of levying subsidies. As the revenues in ordinary do not suffice for the exigencies of war and other necessary expenditure, it is therefore requisite to make extraordinary provision, and impose taxes. I will merely mention the mode employed of late, leaving aside what was done of yore; and it is a tax called “subsidy” laid on the people at her Majesty's request, by Act of Parliament, and which is levied thus :—Commissioners (deputati), both in the cities and towns (ville), summon all the inhabitants, parish by parish, and in the King's name, charge them under oath to declare truly the amount of their capital, for which he is made debtor, and taxed at the rate of a penny (soldo) in the pound, if an Englishman; twopence if an alien; and four if a churchman, this sum forming one subsidy; and when voted, it becomes payable within the year. If, when the amount of the capitals is declared, the commissioners suspect any fraud, they can compel the suspected person to produce his [account] books; and should they detect any error, they are authorized to punish him; but, notwithstanding all this, means are found to conceal the truth; nor do they even administer the oath; so the Crown is grossly defrauded, a subsidy not yielding more than 200,000 ducats, of which the City of London alone pays 50,000.
Loans. The Kings are also accustomed to raise loans (di accomodarsi) through the merchants in Flanders, at the rate of upwards of 14 per cent., and the Queen is understood to be debtor to them for more than a million of of gold.
Debasement of the coinage by Henry VIII. and Edward VI; The consequent rise of prices; Results of the dissolution of the monasteries. I will not omit to mention a mode adopted by Henry VIII. to raise money, which in like manner as it well nigh ruined the country, so did it bring great infamy upon himself. This was, that he debased the coin of the realm by one fourth, and after his death the councillors who ruled King Edward, availing themselves of this bad example, debased it to such an extent that although on two occasions in 1551 they lowered the moneys 18 percent., (fn. 22) they nevertheless still remained of very low standard (molto triste). Had this loss for the realm, however, proved beneficial to the King it would have been more bearable; but the great personages (li signori) having agreed together had a coinage for their own personal benefit, and not satisfied with this, as their rents were paid them in this base coin, they commenced raising their “leases,” which they call “farms” (ferme), with the intention of bringing them to a level with the depreciation of the coinage, but being without discretion even in this they exceeded that limit, which caused it subsequently to come to pass that the farmers knowing what a sorry plight they would be in unless they also sold their produce at equivalent prices, they commenced raising them, and being no less covetous than their landlords beef, and veal rose to 9 d. and 10 d. per lb., wheat to five ducats (sic) [22 s. 6 d.] per stajo, (fn. 23) and every thing else in proportion, and even this might have been borne, had the commodities been procurable (e se ne avesse potuto avere, ancora si avrebbe potuto sopportare); but although by the reduction of the money aforesaid and by other acts passed moreover by the Parliament, they endeavoured to apply a remedy, yet they were unable to make such provision as necessary; nor will they ever succeed, until the farms are reduced, and even then it is not supposed that the plentiful supply of good food can again prevail, owing to the destruction of the monasteries, which from many causes produced this abundance, above all by cultivating much more land than is now under the plough (facendo lavorare molte piú terre che non si fa al presente); and besides the great amount of alms distributed by them, they gave ample employment to numbers of persons, whereas at present not only are no alms given, but the proprietors of the land, finding it more profitable to leave it for pasturage, instead of cultivating it, have deprived many, of the means of subsistence.
Her Majesty's ordinary expenditure amounts to 830,000 ducats; and first of all I will tell of her principal ministers.
Officers of state. The first of them is the Lord Steward of the Kingdom (Henry Fitz-Alan, 21st Earl of Arundel), President of the Council, in which, all matters are proposed by him; and as Lord Steward, it is his office, when the Queen dines in state, to place the viands on the table and to present the napkin when she washes her hands. Next comes the Marquis of Winchester (William Paulett), Lord Treasurer, who has to overlook all the ministers who handle the public money, and to decide any questions arising thence; and when the Lord Steward performs his office with Her Majesty, he in like manner holds the basin when she washes her hands. The third personage is the Lord Great Chamberlain, Earl of Oxford (John De Vere, 16th Earl), whose business it is to accompany the Queen wherever she goes; and to convoke the Peers to Parliament; and on state occasions to pour the water over the Queen's hands, and to make the assay of the viands. The fourth personage is the Chamberlain of the Household (William Lord Howard of Effingham), who is the principal person in Her Majesty's Chamber, and has care and guard of the upper floor of the house, as the Vice-Chamberlain has of the lower floor, and he is moreover the head of all the gentlemen in Her Majesty's service. Then comes the Treasurer of the Household; and next the Comptroller (Sir Robert Rochester), whose care it is to inspect the accounts, and the administration of the money expended for the household. Besides these, there is the Grand Equerry (Gran Scudiere), who is the head of Her Majesty's stable (Anthony Brown Viscount Montagu, Master of the Horse); and there is also one who keeps the Privy Seal (William Lord Paget); all of whom, and many others their dependents, receive stipend.
The Queen's Guard. Besides these, there is Her Majesty's Guard, consisting of 50 gentlemen, all English, who carry a weapon called an axe (un'arma chiamata asta), each of them receiving 200 crowns pension; besides 150 archers, who have 150 crowns each.
For all these pensions and costs, and for other officials throughout the realm, Her Majesty spends annually Ducats 200,000
For the board of Her Majesty's entire Household, for which 22 upper tables are usually kept, besides the lower ones Ducats 180,000
The Queen's expenditure. To the Lady Elizabeth, Her Majesty's sister are given Ducats 10,000
To the Lady Anne of Cleves, heretofore repudiated by King Henry VIII. Ducats 10,000
And Her Majesty, before coming to the Crown, had the same allowance.
For the costs of Infantry and Fortresses in Ireland, in England, and in the places beyond sea Ducats 130,000
For the Tower of London Ducats 10,000
For pensions and provision extraordinary both to Englishmen and foreigners Ducats 100,000
For provision for abbots, priors, and other ecclesiastics deprived of their revenues Ducats 40,000
For provision given, to keep Her Majesty's palaces in good repair, they being in immense number Ducats 10,000
For costs of the Arsenal, including powder, artillery, and other necessaries Ducats 20,000
Ship-money. For or the cost of ten armed ships, which from year to year are kept at sea for the protection of merchandise against corsairs, the Queen being bound to incur it, as for this purpose she levies a duty called “the subsidy” (il sussidio) Ducats 100,000
Insufficiency of the revenue. The revenues, therefore, amounting to about a million of gold, and the expenditure being 828,000 (sic) [810,000], Her Majesty would have a surplus of about 170,000 ducats, but from the research used by me, I understood that the revenues do not suffice for the expenditure, partly because, as usual everywhere, it is impossible to levy all the taxes, and in part owing to the mal-administration of the money; to such an extent, that since a long while stipendiaries receive barely half their pay; and the costs of the Coronation, and of the outfit of the 30 ships which put to sea this year for the coming of the Prince of Spain, were defrayed by a loan, for which the merchants in Flanders contracted at exorbitant interest.
Parliament. It remains for me to tell of the mode in which the Realm is governed; and first of all, I will speak of its foundation and first element (principio), which is the Parliament-general of the Kingdom. It is convoked at the King's pleasure, and on one part, its members are all the Peers of the Realm and the Bishops. Heretofore, the Abbots also attended it, but as they no longer exist, since the destruction of the monasteries, it is held without them; and when this congregation is assembled, it is called “the Upper House” la Casa di Sopra). On the other part, in the so-called “Lower House “ (Casa Bassa), the assembly of the people meets; every city and castle, and all the counties likewise, each sending two members thither, amounting in all to 300 persons, they remaining in place as long as a Parliament lasts; and when a new Parliament is needed after a dissolution, the cities, castles, and counties make a new election. The members of the Upper House, on the contrary, are always the same, and the chief personages (li Signori) now sitting there are in number 18; namely, the Duke of Norfolk, the Marquis of Winchester, the Earls of Arundel, Oxford, Shrewsbury, Derby, Devon, Westmoreland, Worcester, Rutland, Cumberland, Sussex, Wilton (Grey), Bath, Southampton, Bedford, Pembroke, and the Viscount of Hertford; besides whom, there are about 50 individuals who have the title of “Lord.” It must be borne in mind that these Lords (questi Signori) have nothing but the title given them by the King as an act of grace, or for merit, for themselves and their descendants; nor have they any authority or jurisdiction in ordinary, save such as is conceded them by their Sovereign, which is for the most part temporary; though it is true that when the title of Duke is conferred on any one, they also provide him with revenues for the maintenance of his grade, which requires at least 10,000 crowns; doing the like by the Marquises, Earls, and all the others according to their station. All the Bishops of the Kingdom sit in the Upper House, in number 22 (sic), including the two Archbishops of Canterbury and York, the Bishops being London, Durham, Winchester, Bath and Wells, Exeter, Ely, Coventry and Lichfield, Norwich, Salisbury, St. David's, Llandaff, Carlisle, Worcester, Hereford, Gloucester, Peterborough, Chichester, Lincoln, and Rochester.
Manner of holding Parliament; Contradictory enactments touching religion. On the day of the opening of Parliament, all the Lords of the Upper House robe in certain scarlet gowns, lined with ermine of various sorts (foderato d'armellini differenti) according to their grade; the Bishops also with their scarlet capes (cappe) in like manner; Her Majesty also being present in the Royal habits, without the Crown; and they go all together to the Church, where a solemn mass of the Holy Ghost is sung; after which, Her Majesty takes her seat in the place prepared for her in Parliament, and there, the members of both Houses being present, the Lord Chancellor, who at present is the Bishop of Winchester, makes a speech about what is to be treated in Parliament; though for the most part he says in general terms, that matters will be treated relating to the welfare of the Kingdom. Next day the Lower House assembles, and elects a Proctor and Advocate (un Procuratore e Avvocato), entitled “The Speaker” and then the King returns to Parliament to hear him, he also making a speech in common and general terms. Then the two Houses commence assembling apart, each member being at liberty to present such suggestions (ricordi) as seem advantageous to him, in writing, and they are given to the clerks (alii notari), who register them, after which they are discussed three times, not on three consecutive days immediately, but after an interval of time. When about to pass any Act, the House is asked whether the proposal has its approval, each member answering aloud “Aye,” or “No,” and when the opinion of the majority is clearly known, it is adopted (deliberata); but when many are heard to say “Aye, aye” or “No, no,” so that the opinion seems doubtful, the “Ayes” are told to move to one side, and the “Noes” to remain in their places; and both sides being counted, the greater number conquers; and immediately after the resolve is made in either house, it is forthwith communicated to the other, there to be debated in like manner; and if not annulled, but confirmed, it is kept until Parliament ends, being presented to the King on the last day when His Majesty returns to close the Parliament; and such of its resolves as he thinks it fit to approve he signs with his own hand, and of those disapproved by him he says in French “Le Roy s'avisera;” so that before a resolve can become a conclusive act it must pass the two houses, and be then signed by the King's hand. I will not particularize all the errors committed through this mode of deliberating by word of mouth, but shall merely remark that each member having to state his opinion openly it comes to pass that from fear they are often compelled to vote (a deliberare) what they know to be the will of those who rule them, rather than according to the dictates of their own conscience, so it is clearly manifest that there is no longer the liberty there used to be (fn. 24); and since a certain period, in order yet more to restrict that liberty in the Lower House, whose members are elected, it is contrived that none be returned, save such as conform to the will of the Crown, as was clearly seen when treating the matters of religion, about which so many contradictory statutes were enacted, the persons elected, whether of one sort or the other, always voting with the government, that not only did the Parliament lose much of its authority with the people, but by so many variations and changes, they reduced the country to such a state as well nigh not to know what to believe, nor on what to base their faith; and if by means of this most serene Queen, and the Bishop of Winchester, the Almighty had not shed his light whereby they might return to the truth, no greater confusion could have been witnessed anywhere than would have been seen in England, by reason of the endless variety of heresies which swarm there (pullulando la diversità delle eresie senza fine).
The Reformation. Concerning this matter I will not omit saying what the heresy was in the time of King Edward. It consisted in three chief articles, namely, in the total alienation from the Pope and the Roman Church; in the diversity of ceremonies; and in denying that in the sacrament of the altar there was the real body of the Son of God. With regard to the separation (alienazione) from the church, having mentioned above the mode in which it was effected, and the cause, I will merely add that they would not acknowledge either “ pardons” or “indulgences,” denying the [doctrine of] free will, and purgatory, and every other opinion maintained in these matters by the holy church. The ceremonies also were well nigh entirely changed, the mode of reciting the divine service (gli uffici divini) according to the Roman ritual being suppressed, as also the mass, or else it was performed in another manner, and in the English tongue. They likewise suppressed all the festivals of the Saints, save such as are mentioned in the New Testament. They moreover enacted that the priests were not to wear sacerdotal ornaments (paramenti) of any sort, but merely the white surplice (cotta), and they also removed all the images of the Saints, and the altars, leaving the churches all bare and whitewashed, with the Royal Arras in the front of the church, surrounded by passages from Scripture. They allowed the priests to marry, and also to bequeath their property to their children, but not the benefices, the presentation of which belonged to the King alone, it not being customary to make renunciation of them in any way. In case of adultery they also granted divorce, which gave rise to endless irregularities and confusion. They suppressed every sort of light in the churches, as also the holy water and the holy oil, considering them superfluous; the commemorations of the saints, and the prayers for the dead being in like manner abolished, though they ordained the observance of the Eves, the four Ember weeks, and Lent; and moreover exhorted everybody to make auricular confession to the priest, but not by precept, and they called it counsel, and satisfaction of conscience (conseglio et soddisfazione della coscienza).
With regard to the Communion, they ordered all persons to take it at least three times in the year, but not in the manner observed by the [Roman] Church; nor did they believe in the real presence (nè credevano che vi fusse il vero Corpo di Cristo), but merely a sacramental efficacy (virtù), in commemoration of the supper and passion of our Lord; and they celebrated it thus: In the place where the choir used to be they had a table, covered with the cloth, on which they put common bread and wine, making the communicants kneel round it; and after recital by the priest of a number of prayers, he took a mouthful of the bread for himself, and drank some of the wine, making the communicants do the like; and this they called Communion, sub utrâque specie; and in the act of giving the bread, the priest said, “Take and eat this, in remembrance that Christ died for thee, and eat of this Christ in thy heart through faith, with thanksgiving ;” and then, when giving the wine, they said, “Drink this in remembrance that Christ's blood was shed for thee, and be thankful(fn. 25)
Restoration of the Roman Catholic religion; Question as to Church property. Secret interview between Queen Mary and a Papal agent. On the accession of Queen Mary, immediately on arriving in London, she had the mass performed, and the first Parliament restored all the ancient ceremonies and the doctrine of the sacrament (insieme con la opinione del sacramento), and everything else, in accordance with the custom of the Roman Church, so that in this brief period such progress has been made that the mass and divine service are performed in all the churches, and attended by a good number of persons. Though the majority of the population is perhaps dissatisfied, yet may it be hoped that the Almighty will support her Majesty's good intentions. Nothing remains for adjustment with the Roman Church, save the obedience to the Church, which the Parliament has not hitherto confirmed, but will doubtless give its assent, provided the church property already distributed by the crown, remain in the hands of its present possessors, as having been given, sold, and exchanged, for so long a while, it can scarcely be supposed that the present possessors would restore it; and indeed it would be almost impossible by reason of the endless law-suits which would ensue; nor is it the Queen's intention to renounce the church property, of which she lately sold some, of considerable value, although she is quite bent on the union. This is proved by her negotiations with Dom. Francesco Commendone, the Pope's chamber attendant, who, being at the Emperor's court as datary to the Cardinal Legate Dandino, introduced himself through Marc/ Antonio Da Mula, Venetian ambassador with his Imperial Majesty, to him (Soranzo), to whom he announced the Cardinal's wish that he should be presented to the Queen to offer her (per offerirle) the Pope's goodwill, and that he (Soranzo) should give him information about the state of the religion, Commendone telling him that at Rome they knew little or nothing about it. Therefore, considering the benefit of Christendom and how much the Signory would be gratified by the increase of the Catholic religion, did not fail to give Commendone full information about all he required, and by means of an intimate friend, deep in the Queen's confidence (confidentissimo di sua Maestà), contrived to have him introduced by night to speak to her Majesty, to whom he announced the Pope's goodwill. She evinced satisfaction at the performance of this office, and made answer that she had always been inclined to live according to the religion in which she was born, and that thus did she desire to continue, so that she did not believe she had incurred any ecclesiastical censure, having never consented to the things which took place against the religion, but that nevertheless to put her mind more at ease she moreover wished for absolution from the Pope, not only for herself but also for the whole kingdom; though as everything was still so unsettled that the publication of her demand might seriously injure the affairs of the kingdom, and perhaps endanger her life, she charged him to communicate this her wish solely to him (Soranzo), and then beyond the Channel to his Cardinal Dandino and to Cardinal Pole, proceeding subsequently straight to Rome, there to kiss the Pope's feet in her Majesty's name, and to make this request, as he did; but at Rome the secret was not kept as it ought to have been, and the Pope conceded the absolution to her Majesty and all those who were heartily disposed to resume their obedience to the Roman church.
Laws. Trial by jury. The laws whereby the kingdom is governed are not common, but peculiar to the realm, having been enacted from time to time by Parliament; and without saying how causes are treated in detail, it will suffice to mention the mode of judging, which is well nigh alike both in civil and criminal causes; for in civil actions, after both parties have given sufficient evidence before the ordinary judges, the causes are referred for final despatch to the judgment of 12 men. not elected, but drawn by lot from persons of any condition whatever, they being taken first from one parish and then from another, so that the whole city participates in the appointment; 12 individuals being appointed for each cause, in such wise that when the suit ends the authority of the 12 who judged it ends likewise; and if the suit is between two Englishmen, all the judges are English, and if between an Englishman and a foreigner, they draw six Englishmen and six foreigners. After having heard the cause these judges are shut up in a place, from which they cannot come out, they remaining without food or liquor until they all 12 unanimously give the sentence, which is afterwards carried to the judges in ordinary, who then despatch it formally (in forma). The like is done in criminal causes, though the judges are not elected by chance, but they take accidentally (a caso) such persons as proved to have been nearest at hand when the fact occurred, they apparently being best able to know about it. The process being drawn up, the delinquent presents himself before the above-mentioned judges, he being at liberty to reject them, on assigning legitimate reasons, and they are replaced by others, to whom no objection is made; whereupon the delinquent either confesses the crime laid to his charge, or defends himself personally, without any barrister or counsel (senza altro avvocato ò consultore); and having closed his defence, the 12 individuals aforesaid shut themselves up together, and with the same forms as in civil causes, announce the sentence to the judges in ordinary, who despatch it in form, it not being the custom either to mutilate any member, or to send into exile, but to acquit or condemn to death. To say how defective and reprehensible this mode of trial is seems to me unnecessary, so I will merely observe that one of these 12 judges being better able than his fellows to withstand hunger and other inconveniences, has been the cause of the death of a person under trial, although the others wished to acquit him.
Appeals. The appeals against sentences, both civil and criminal, are decided in the place, where Her Majesty resides, certain courts of judges appointed for this purpose assembling four times a year (called terms), for each of the four seasons, with supreme authority for the decision of all causes.
The Lord Chancellor. The mode of government hitherto detailed is ordinary and according to the statutes; but I will now tell of the supreme authority of the Crown, which extends even beyond these laws, as necessary, they being in great part imperfect, and too rigorous. But as, because were Her Majesty to attend in person to the despatch of all the necessary business, the burden would be too great, she lays this part of it on the Lord Chancellor of the kingdom, who, as already mentioned, is the Bishop of Winchester, and by the Royal mandate he decides summarily such causes as seem to him worthy of being countenanced (suffragate) by his authority; and as it has been necessary to speak of his right reverend Lordship, he being the person who at present not only governs this department, but has greater authority than anybody else about Her Majesty, it will not be irrelevant for your Serenity to hear his condition.
Account of Stephen Gardiner. His name is Stephen Gardiner, LL.D., his father having been of very middling station, but he himself, by reason of his abilities, was very much esteemed by Henry VIII., who accredited him several times as ambassador, and amongst the rest to Pope Clement, to treat the divorce from her present Majesty's mother, which he advised him to effect; but not having assented to the alienation from the Catholic Church, he got rather out of favour with the King, after whose death, as he never would consent to what was done about the Sacrament (alle cose del Sacramento), they put him in the Tower, where he remained for six years, but on the Queen's arrival in London he was released immediately, and made Lord Chancellor, and the favour which he has gained with Her Majesty is caused principally by his having been an excellent agent for restoring the religion to its present state.
The Privy Council. The government of State affairs is entirely in the hands of her Majesty's Council, which at present consists of about 40 members, although under former sovereigns they were not more than 20, but as all the members of the Council of King Edward were the accomplices of the Duke of Northumberland in proclaiming Lady Jane Grey queen, and therefore guilty of rebellion, her Majesty created a Council of her own, to which, on arriving in London—having pardoned the rebels—she added the greater part of those who had been the councillors of King Edward.
Gardiner; Paget. The manner in which they transact business is as follows:—The leading members are lodged in the palace where her Majesty resides, some of them sleeping there, according to ancient custom, so that she may never be alone. They meet very early in the morning, and, provided the chiefs are present, although they may not be more than six or seven, the Council is understood to be assembled, and the president proposes the matters for discussion—though at present the Bishop of Winchester has the management of everything—and each member present is at liberty to give his opinion by word of mouth, the decision of the majority being presented for approval to the Queen, who, deferring in everything to the Council, approves accordingly. As according to the custom of the country one of the councillors is always superior to the rest, and what pleases him seems nearly always to please the others also, the present Prime Minister, as aforesaid, is the Bishop of Winchester, and next to him those most in the Queen's favour are the Earl of Arundel [Henry Fitz-Allan, twenty-first Earl of Arundel,] Lord Paget, and Secretary Petre; but Paget, both because he is a very experienced statesman (molto pratico delle ationi del mondo), as also from having been the person who negotiated the marriage with the Prince of Spain, took precedence of all of them until now, when, as an acknowledged anti-Catholic, he is out of favour with her Majesty. The Bishop of Winchester, on the contrary, who at the commencement opposed the marriage and ran great risk of disgrace, until being convinced of the Queen's firm intention he diligently aided its accomplishment is now paramount to everybody.
Although in my despatches, I gave very detailed account to the Signory of the mode in which the marriage was treated (fn. 26) I will now, nevertheless, mention briefly a few particulars about it.
Queen Mary and Courtenay; Proposals for the marriage with Philip. Wyatt's rebellion. Immediately on her accession, the Queen became well aware of the great wish of the country that she should marry Lord Courtenay whose noble descent entitled him to a preference over any other native, everybody being above all desirous that she should marry an Englishman, and by no means a foreigner; but the Emperor, who purposed effecting, at any rate, what subsequently came to pass, had recourse to various means for sounding the will (animo) of her Majesty, who, although she had always shown very great affection for the Emperor, yet being quite intent on gratifying the general wish of the kingdom, did not give ear to him. But from a very feeble commencement (d'assai debil principio) he derived means for accomplishing his project, as Lord Paget, having discovered that Courtenay was not true to him, being told that Courtenay said if ever he became the Queen's husband, he would bear in mind that, in the reign of Henry VIII., Paget proposed to have him put to death, took this much to heart, and the Imperialists took occasion thence to persuade Paget to exhort the Queen to marry the Prince of Spain, laying before her the straits to which the kingdom was reduced by the scarcity of money, and that there were no better means for reforming the religion than through the support of so great a Prince, who, being very Catholic, would and could convert the English from their false doctrines. In addition to this, the Imperial Ambassador made an offer of the Low Countries and other patrimonial territory [to be incorporated with the English Crown]. The Queen, being born of a Spanish mother, was always inclined towards that nation, scorning to be English and boasting of her descent from Spain, was moved by these arguments; the like offices being performed both by the Earl of Arundel and Secretary Petre; and becoming more and more aware daily of the largeness of the Emperor's offers, her Majesty sent for the Bishop of Winchester and the three other personages aforesaid, and manifested to them her inclination in favour of this marriage; and although Winchester at first combated it, he at length acquiesced. But as Parliament was then sitting, the Lower House, on hearing of this negotiation, determined to go to her Majesty and lay before her in the name of the Commons, the detriment which might be caused the kingdom by her marriage to a foreigner; wherefore they were compelled to beseech her to marry an Englishman, without naming anyone in particular. Not only did she reply ungraciously, but without allowing them even to conclude their address, rebuked them for their audacity, in daring to speak to her their Queen about marriage, saying, however, that she would consult with God, and with no one else, which greatly disturbed everybody, and yet more when they heard that it had been stipulated; so last Christmas, many of the chief gentry, partly from dissatisfaction at seeing the kingdom in the hands of the Spaniards, and partly from disapproval of the change in the religion, plotted together, and arranged amongst themselves that on Palm Sunday, the 18th March, an insurrection was to break out all over the kingdom. But the conspiracy being discovered before the time in Cornwall, where Peter Carew was the ringleader, and subsequently in Kent, where Wyatt headed the insurgents, having mustered there some 4,000, he, after suborning the Queen's forces at Rochester, under the Duke of Norfolk, marched to London, and encamped in the borough of Southward on the other side of the bridge, and having departed thence, in order to cross a bridge seven miles off and enter the city, he was met and routed on the first day of Lent by the Queen's troops under the Earl of Pembroke. I will not now tell of the great danger which then threatened the city of London, as, had Wyatt succeeded, the foreigners at least would have been sacked, it being quite certain that the Londoners had an understanding with him; nor could any better mode be devised for keeping them in check, as they had already commenced rioting, than for Her Majesty to go in person through the city to the Guildhall (nella salla), where, having assembled the people, after saying many things to quiet them, she promised to call a Parliament immediately, in which she would hear the reasons (le ragioni) alleged by the kingdom, and not do anything to dissatisfy it; so Parliament met, but as through the assiduity employed (con la diligenza) no members were returned, save such as were known to be of the Queen's mind, it was very easy to obtain from the two Houses the approval of the marriage contract, of which, although I sent your Serenity a private copy made from the original, I will not omit alluding at present to the chief articles.
Articles of the marriage contract. Alter consummating the marriage, the Prince was to have the same titles as Her Majesty, and to assist her in the government of the kingdom, he retaining the titles so long as he shall be Her Majesty's husband; and should she die before him he is bound to renounce the title of King, and to quit the realm immediately. The Queen, in like manner, is to have the same titles as the Prince on the same terms. The eldest son born of this marriage is to have the states of Flanders and the other patrimonial territories of the Emperor; and should there be no male heirs, the eldest daughter is to inherit, provided she marry either a Fleming or an Englishman, with the consent of Don Carlos, Prince Philip's son. In the administration (maneggio) or government of the kingdom of England none but English are to be admitted (non si admetterà alcuno che non sia Inglese). The Prince is neither to take the Queen out of England against her will, nor yet the children who may be born of her (che nasceranno), without the consent of the Peers of the realm (delli Principi del Regno). The kingdom is not to be bound to give assistance to the Emperor, or to the Prince, in the war against France.
Prospects of King Philip in England. From this contract and alliance your Serenity may perfectly comprehend the understanding and union between the kingdom of England and the Emperor, so on this subject it is unnecessary to say anything further; but convinced as I am that your Lordships would fain know how Prince Philip can rule that realm pacifically, although all opinions of future events are very uncertain, and above all such as relate to affairs in England, where men's minds (gli umori) are very mutable, I will nevertheless not omit to say something about them.
It is quite clear that, should Don Philip choose to maintain himself in England by sheer force, he would require a very great number of troops, which I do not think he could muster at present during the Emperor's war with France, so it may be supposed that he intends to rule in peace and quiet, which would, I think, render him more secure; for the greater the amount of foreign troops introduced into the country, the greater cause would the English have for riots and discontent, as very well known to his Highness; for the Spanish soldiers who came with him from Spain did not even disembark, the Lords of the Council having required this, and it was also specified in one of the articles of the marriage contract, which, at least, at this commencement, he may be expected to observe above all things; and as it is throughout very greatly in favour of the English, and to their advantage by adhering to it, there will, doubtless, be no cause for riots. It may also be supposed that, through a variety of opportunities, he will endeavour to benefit the nobility (li grandi), without whom, with difficulty, can the people ever do anything of consequence; and by associating with the aristocracy, he, in time, will have no great difficulty about ascertaining their disposition, and will give them colleagues, who, acknowledging their dignity and profit as the gifts of his Highness, will seek his advantage, nor will he lack means for disposing adroitly of those who dissent from him (che non v'assentirano). It may also be supposed that his chief care will be to garrison the fortresses with Englishmen who he can persuade himself depend on his own immediate will. (fn. 27) These and very many other precautions he could take, which might benefit him; but nothing would be more efficacious than the Queen's pregnancy, the mere hope of which is sufficient to curb the people. On the other hand, as it is a very easy matter to raise a rebellion in England, not only when headed by some great personage of authority (qualche principe d'autorità), but even without such support, there is no doubt whatever of his Highness being in constant danger, experience having shown that often in these rebellions even the native kings were well nigh worsted (quasi oppressi); so it is always to be feared that his Highness may have to endure some trouble, most especially as the English (quelle genti) are so fickle (di così poca fedé), that neither benefits nor anything else can ever give security for their resolves (volonta)
Relations between England and France. At present Her Majesty is quite at peace with the most Christian King, though there are many visible causes which might disturb it, as for instance, the many English ships captured by the French during the last few months, and for which the English have never received entire compensation, although his most Christian Majesty promised it in full (largamente). It is also very evident how much the English writhe under the French domination of Scotland, both because it seems to them that that kingdom passed out of their hands fraudulently, the young Queen—already affianced to King Edward—having been carried off to France; as also because they very well know that, through that quarter, many and most serious attacks may be made upon them; so this is, doubtless, their chief grievance. In addition to this, in England, it is considered certain that the King of France had an understanding with the Kentish insurgents, which is the more believed the more they see him harbour the [English] exiles (fuorusciti); and although the Queen has repeatedly required the French Ambassadors to renew the [international ?] treaty, no determination has ever been announced to her
But what matters more than everything else, is the love she may be expected to bear her husband, and should he determine on persuading her to make war on France, it may be believed that she will not refuse him, most especially if he makes himself agreeable to her. Considering, on the other hand, the unpopularity of the marriage, which has estranged (mutato) the affection borne by the people to the Queen, and they knowing that the war would benefit—not the Realm, but one whom they consider well nigh their enemy—it is credible that they would strongly oppose it, besides which, the Exchequer is in the last state of exhaustion; and owing to the discontent of the people, with great difficulty can it be supposed that Parliament would vote any money grant, or that the country would pay it; so on these and other accounts, those who wish to bear in mind the welfare of the kingdom, must be of opinion that the best it can do is to keep quiet.
Soranzo's conduct and treatment in England. During his residence in England as the Signory's Ambassador, was always treated with the greatest marks of goodwill, was admitted into King Edward's chamber without any previous demand for audience, and was always detained by him for a long while with every demonstration of honour towards the Republic. Has also been most graciously treated by Queen Mary, both since her accession and before, when he frequently visited her and did her service by procuring for her many articles of value from Venice, much to her satisfaction. (fn. 28) After she came to the crown, did not fail to do whatever he thought might be to the satisfaction of her Majesty and the Signory, having gone to meet her with 150 horse when she made her entry into London; and at the time of the coronation he appeared in a mantle and other habits as customary with Venetian Ambassadors on similar occasions, performing whatever other office could prove acceptable, as mentioned from time to time in his despatches. (fn. 29)
The like goodwill was always shown him by the Lords of the Council, both in the time of King Edward, especially by the Duke of Northumberland, who was the head of the government, and now by the Bishop of Winchester, who on every occasion showed favour to Soranzo and to all Venetian subjects. Can therefore assure the Doge and Senate that the Queen and the whole court hold the prudence and power of the Venetian Republic in very great account, and wish to gratify the Signory on every occasion whatever.
Praises his successor Giovanni Michiel (who arrived in London on the 22nd May 1554), and his own Secretary Giovanni Francesco de Franceschi. (fn. 30)
Aug. 18. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 935. Marc' Antonio Damula, Venetian Ambassador with the Emperor, to the Doge and Senate.
Account of the tear in the Low Countries. The Spanish infantry have not yet crossed from England, and they are receiving supplies of hose, jerkins, and arms, being naked and needy, as implied by their Spanish title “bisoños” (perchè son nudi et bisogni come dicono loro). Brabant has consented to give 200,000 crowns, and they are now treating to prolong the time of payment (the Queen [Maria of Hungary] wishing it to be made in the course of October), and about the mode of exacting it from private individuals, which will, it is believed, be by increasing the duties on the necessaries of life (le robe de vivere). Flanders will give 300,000, and Holland, Zealand, and other provinces make up the sum total of 1,000,000 in all, Luxemburg, Hainault, Namur, and Artois not being reckoned, as it supposed they will be exempted on account of the ruin caused them by the wars. A bargain (un partito), now very near conclusion, is being treated with German merchants for 500,000 crowns, to be disbursed by them forthwith to the Emperor in Spain, his Majesty repaying it in these provinces at the end of 15 months without any interest, security to that amount being given on the” giuri “in Spain. (fn. 31) Of the money received from England 100,000 crowns have been distributed to the Imperial army on account of arrears without making any inspection.
Don Francisco de Mendoza has arrived from England with news of the coming of the King and Queen to Westminster; of the Garter given to the Duke of Savoy and Lord Fitzwalter; and that the coronation will not be performed until after the meeting of Parliament, which will take place next October; but your Serenity will be better informed about these matters by the accompanying packet from London.
The Queen of England has sent handsome presents of jewels to the Emperor, and to the Queens of France and Hungary; and a beautiful emerald to the Duchess of Lorraine.
Brussels, 18th August 1554.
[Italian, partly in cipher; the portion in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
Aug. 19. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 936. Marc' Antonio Damula to the Doge and Senate.
The King of England has written Cardinal Pole a beautiful letter (una bella lettera) full of love, of honour, and of offers; and charged Count Horn to perform [a complimentary] office orally, but the Count, having remained in the camp, forwarded the letter; and to certain English friars, who asked his leave and advice about returning to England, the King had them told that they can go thither at their pleasure, so England is now seen to change her mind and customs, and take the true path (si che si vecle mutarsi le voluntà, et li costumi di quel Regno et incaminarsi alia vera via).
The English ambassador resident here [Sir John Masone] has told me that his colleague [Peter Vannes] resident with your Serenity has written a letter, or rather a schedule (processo) to his Queen, about certain words uttered in Venice by a servant of said ambassador [by name George Page] against her Majesty, purporting that he would have the heart to kill her (che gli saria bastato l'animo di amazzarla, &c.), (fn. 32) and that the ambassador came to your Serenity to demand the arrest of his servant for this cause, and that you told him it was of no importance (che non importava), nor should the words of similar persons be heeded (nè era da metter a mente le parole di tali), and that at Venice there was liberty for good men and for rogues (era libertà alii buoni et alii tristi), and that he himself was to make him hold his tongue. So as Vannes did not think fit to allow this outrage against the Queen to remain unpunished he went to Mantua, where the Cardinal [Ercole Gonzaga] and the Duchess [the Regents of Mantua] conceded him the apprehension of the servant, who, on being examined, confessed to having said the words, and thereupon many witnesses were examined.
Sir John Masone added that he should send his colleague's letter to the Queen by the next post, and that Peter Vannes was very timid, and wrote to him from fear lest, in case of the words reaching the Queen's ear, they might subject him to reproof as well as detriment (egli ne ricevesse biasimo et danno anchora).
I said to Sir John Masone that fear was by certain persons appropriately styled a tie and ligature (vincido et legame), and that some had too much of it, as seemed to have been the case with Mr. Vannes, who was as it were bound (legato), and knew not what to do, and that occasionally, under other circumstances, I had seen him in greater fear about ridiculous matters; nor was it becoming to imprison men for light causes, such as the words of a base menial (un vil servitor), who was either mad or drunk, and that I believed when the Queen heard them they would move her to laughter; nor are trifles of this sort held in account at Venice.
At this point Sir John Masone interrupted me, confirming my remarks by saying that when in England he heard of and saw your Serenity's letters to the late King Edward about the timidity of Mr. Vannes, and that previously he [Masone] had seen him cry from fear, and that according to his belief the Queen would laugh at the matter.
Damula to the Doge and Senate. (Aug. 19.) I commended her Majesty, saying I imagined he [Masone], when writing to the Queen, would apologize for Vannes, on the plea of his being afraid of that which he should have disregarded, because otherwise sovereigns would have too much to do, as both at this Court and all over the world there are ignorant persons in great number who, wherever they chance to be, defame their own sovereigns.
Masone replied that he would do as I told him, and that since the last Parliament, this liberty of speech is greater in England than in any place in the world, whereas previously, one word of the sort constituted crimen laesae Majestatis, which, seeming too harsh and unjust, they therefore repealed the statute.
I have now received letters from the camp, where it was heard through French prisoners that in the engagement of the 13th the Admiral of France was killed, a man much beloved by the King, on account of his valour, and nephew of the Constable, besides many other cavaliers; that the Count d'Egmont and the Marquis de Berghes had arrived from England, with news that in two days the greater part of the Spanish cavalry, which came with the Prince, would join the camp, it having been asserted that Mons. de Ri (sic) [Rieux ?] the Emperor's Chief Chamberlain, and his brother, have also passed through Brussels for Burgundy for this same purpose; but nothing was said in the camp about the time appointed for their march, nor when the Emperor was to depart thence.
I understand that the entry of the King and Queen into London has been delayed for four days, and the announcement made by Don Francesco de Mendoza of their arrival at Westminster, was untrue.
Further particulars of the war in Flanders, and of the retreat of the French from Renti.
It is now reported that the Emperor will leave the army and reside at St. Omer, his frontier town, on the borders of Picardy, towards the sea.
Since having written thus far, I have received letters from Heidel berg, dated the 15th, purporting that in the Diet of Worms (fn. 33) they are now discussing the demand made by the Bishops, with regard to the war waged on the Marquis [Albert of Brandenburg ?], as rebel to the Empire, &c, &c.
Brussels, 19th August 1554.
[Italian, partly in cipher, the portion in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
Aug. 20, MS. St. Mark's Library, Cod. xxiv. Cl. No date of time or place in MS 937. Cardinal Pole to the Prince of Spain.
Having for so many causes, human and divine, congratulated himself on his Majesty's marriage with Pole's most Serene Queen (Serenissima Regina nostra), has chosen by the gentleman the bearer of the present letter, to do the like with his Majesty, whom he requests to give entire credence to whatever will be said to him in Pole's name on this subject by the envoy. Prays God, that in like manner as by means of this marriage, he has called the King for the real advantage and welfare of England, which since so many years has been so harassed, so will he favour it in such wise, as daily more and more to prove the Divine goodness and providence, to the universal joy of all men, by means of his Majesty. (fn. 34)
From Brussels, 20th August 1554 ?
[Aug. 20 ?] MS. St. Mark's Library. Cod. xxiv. Cl. x 938. Cardinal Pole to the Emperor Charles V.
Having been informed with how much contentment the King his son has been received in England, (fn. 35) congratulates the Emperor, in the hope that the marriage of two such Catholic and pious Princes may effect the establishment of the holy religion and the complete welfare of England.
From Brussels, 20th July [20th August ?] 1554.
Aug. 20 ? MS. St. Mark's Library. Cod. xxiv. Cl. x. No date of time or place in MS. 939. Cardinal Pole to Queen Mary.
Request of the Cardinal of Burgos, writes a letter of recommendation to the Queen for Burgos' present messenger. (fn. 36)
From Brussels, 20th August 1554 ?
Aug. 20 ? MS. St. Mark's Library. Cod. xxiv. Cl. x. No date in MS. 940. Cardinal Pole to the Bishop of Arras.
Congratulates the Emperor on the arrival of the Prince of Spain in England and on his marriage with the Queen.
From Brussels, 20th August 1554 ?


  • 1.
  • 2. In the Register “Secretario alle voci,” there is no note of Soranzo's election, but by the Register “Senato Terra,” vol. xxxvii., p. 100 tergo, it appears that the Senate appointed him to succeed Daniel Barbaro in February 1551.
  • 3. “Bianchi,” not grey. The same expression is used by Horace Walpole, in a letter to Lord Strafford (date August 16, 1768), describing the person of the king of Denmark.
  • 4. “Se bene quando fussero stati concordi del giudizio, la Regina si sarebbe contentata, che, giurando il Re, che la prima fiata, che seco consumò il matrimonio et non l'aveva ritrovata vergine, si facesse il divorzio.”
  • 5. The letter no longer exists. When Soranzo made his “Report,” a second coronation was expected in honour of King Philip.
  • 6. John Dudley Viscount Lisle, and created Earl of “Warwick on the accession of Edward VI., did not become Duke of Northumberland, until the sixth of the same reign. Soranzo had known John Dudley personally as Earl of Warwick and Duke of Northumberland, by which last title he here alludes to him.
  • 7. “Ma quello che importava più, voleva che gli riferissero tutti gli negocj et si avesse il parere, in tanto che quello che lui comandava, voleva che fusse eseguito senza più dilatione.”
  • 8. In a despatch which has not been found.
  • 9. The Lady Elizabeth was released from the Tower on the 19th May 1554, and by way of Richmond, Windsor, and Ricote proceeded straight to Woodstock, where she remained until April 1555. Soranzo seems to have left London in June 1554, but I am unable to ascertain the day of his departure; though as his successor Michiel arrived in London on the 22d May 1554, it is improbable that Soranzo should have remained with him beyond June.
  • 10. Lady Margaret Clifford, daughter of Henry Clifford, Earl of Cumberland, by his first wife Eleanor Brandon, youngest daughter of the Duke of Suffolk by Mary Tudor, Queen Dowager of France. Margaret Clifford was born in the year 1540, and on the 7th February 1555, was married to Lord Strange, eldest son of the Earl of Derby. (See Collins' Peerage, vol. vi. p. 523.)
  • 11. On the 25th May 1554, Courtenay was brought from the Tower, and conveyed to Fodringham Castle in Northamptonshire under the care of Sir Thomas Tresham. (See Collins, vol. vi. p. 258.)
  • 12. The letter has not been found.
  • 13. Finalmente dopo molta effusione di sangue, et mutazione della corona ora in una, ora nell' altra parte, non esseendo restata prole mascolina del Re Edoardo IV. (sic), che era della rosa bianca, la quale allora regnava, ma solamente feminine, la primogenita fu data per moglie al Conte Enrico de Richmond, restato solo erede della rosa rossa, il quale fu poi Enrico VII. avo di questa Regina, onde di nuovo si conguinsero queste due famiglie, e S.M. viene ad essere legittima erede dell' una et de l'altra.”
  • 14. By a note to Machyn's Diary (Camden Society Publication), p. 319, it appears that in 1551, from the 7th to the 20th July, the deaths caused by “the sweat” were in number 938; but I do not know when the disease first showed itself in London in that year.
  • 15. In the “Annali Veneti” of Malipiero (pp. 710, 711) it is stated that in the year 1498 a Venetian vessel, bound from London to Venice, bought wheat at Calais (which was doubtless of English growth) at the rate of four shillings and six pence for 660 Venetian pounds weight avoirdupois, “a cinque stera al ducato.” By the Statutes of the realm, A.D. 1492, it is shewn that four golden ducats amounted to 18 shillings, so the English bushel may be valued at four shillings and sixpence; each “ster” weighing 132 lbs.
  • 16. Legumi, pulse ?
  • 17. “Cuori.” The literal translation of “cuori,” or cuojo, is leather, but I suspect that in the 15th and 16th centuries the Venetians used the word cuori to signify hides, tanned or untanned.
  • 18. Edward II. came to the throne in 1307, having married Isabel of France, daughter of Philip the handsome, in 1303, when Prince of Wales. Charles the handsome, son of Philip, died childless on the 31st January 1328, and subsequently Edward III. (his father Edward II. having died in 1327) claimed the French Crown in right of his mother. (See Hume, History of England, vol. ii. p. 170, edition London 1762.)
  • 19. The Latin title is “Assertio Septem Sacramentorum adversus Martinum Luterum.” Leo X. is said to have called it “Heaven's Diamond” (Diamante del Cielo).
  • 20. Potendosi con molta difficultà navigare, per la gran forza del mare oceano.
  • 21. In the Correr MS. the number is 150; but 250 in the Lazzari-Wcovich copy.
  • 22. There was a proclamation dated in June 1551, but without a day of the month, for reducing immediately the value of the teston or shilling to 9d. and the groat to 3d. (See Domestic Calendar, Edward VI., p. 33.)
  • 23. As already stated, the stajo weighed but 132 lbs., so I suspect that in the present instance stajo must mean an English bushel, as in 1498 the stajo cost one-fifth of a ducat.
  • 24. Onde chiaramente si conosce che non vi è più quella libertà che soleva esservi.
  • 25. “E dando il pane dicevano, Piglia et mangia questo in commemorazione che Cristo è morto per te et mangia di esso Cristo nel tuo cuore per fede con azioni di grazie. Dando poi il vino, dicevano: Bevi questo in commemorazione che il sangue di Cristo fu sparso per te et sii grato.”
  • 26. The despatches here alluded to no longer exist.
  • 27. Si può anco credere che principalmente attenderà a mettere nelle fortezze degli Inglesi, h quali immediatemente si possa persuadere, che dipendono dalla sua volontà.
  • 28. “In fargli condurre da questa inclita città molte robbe, et anco di valore con molta sua satisfazione.”
  • 29. A few of Soranzo's letters to the Council of Ten, have been found amongst the miscellanies in the Venetian archives, but the rest of the correspondence seems to have perished by fire, in the 16th century.
  • 30. In he printed copy of this report, Soranzo says that King Edward knighted and gave him a gold chain as a badge -when he went into mourning for the death of his (Soranzo's) grandfather; and on his departure the Queen gave him another gold chain. The two together were worth 800 crowns, and he requested the Senate to allow him to retain them, in consideration of what he suffered at the time of the sweating sickness; from the famine prices; from the reduction of the money; from the length of his embassy; and from the expenses incurred by him on the Queen's entry into London, and for her coronation; when he was obliged to reapparel himself and his attendants several times.
  • 31. The “giuri” signified the acknowledged or funded debt of the crown,—“Giuri, così si domanda l' interesse del denaro del quale è stata servita la corona in diverei tempi.” (See Surian's Report of Spain in the year 1559, published by Alberi, series 1, vol. 3, p. 340.) In Tiepolo's Report of Spain, A.D. 1563, vol. 5. p. 38, the explanation of the word is given thus: “Interesse di juri, che sono come i nostri Monti;” “monti “ signifying the funded debt of Venice.
  • 32. The letter here alluded to has been printed in the Foreign Calendar, date Venice 16 June 1554 (entry 224, pp. 97, 98).
  • 33. This Diet is alluded to in Foreign Calendar, September 26, 1554, p. 121.
  • 34. King Philip arrived at Southampton on the 20th July 1554. (See Foreign Calendar 25 July 1554, No. 106.) Pole probably wrote this letter at the same time as the following one to the Emperor.
  • 35. In the manuscript this letter is dated Brussels, the 20th July. As King Philip did not land at Southampton until the 20th July, I do not understand how Cardinal Pole could have had news of his reception on the very day it took place.
  • 36. By name Pedro Pacheco. (See Foreign Calendar, June 22, 1554, Naples, p. 99.)