Venice: June 1557, 6-10

Pages 1142-1154

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 6, 1555-1558. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1877.

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June 1557, 6–10

June 7. Deliberazioni Senato (Register). 922. Motion Made In The Senate for a communication to be made by the Doge to King Philip's Ambassador in Venice.
We spoke to your Lordship lately about the peace, telling you of our wish for it, requesting you also to perform an office for us with his Majesty, who we hope will now show himself such as he has constantly had us told he is. We persevering in the same desire, and having heard by letters from our ambassador at Rome concerning the offices which he had performed by our order, that he had found the Pope of a mind and well disposed to give ear (d'attendere) to the agreement, as always said by him, it has seemed lit to us again to send for your Lordship to request you to repeat the office which you have already performed with his Majesty, and pray him to be pleased to renew the negotiation for agreement with his Holiness, so that the world may know that his wish tends towards peace and quiet, as we hope that the Pope will listen to such fair terms as shall be proposed, and as he may expect from so Catholic and Christian a King as his Majesty, and that he will not depart from what duty shall require and will be fitting, so that we might hope subsequently to witness a universal peace, to the satisfaction of Christendom and to his Majesty's immortal glory. We think it would be very seasonable for your Lordship to write about it in like manner to the Duke of Alva, from whom we believe we can promise ourselves that, by reason of his goodness and religion, he having always shown himself inclined towards the agreement, he will endeavour on every occasion to do all that shall be expedient for the universal welfare and for the quiet of Italy, in conformity with his Majesty's good intention and with what we earnestly desire, so as to see Christendom in peace, and owing to the especial care we have for the repose of this province. Therefore your Lordship may be certain that we shall not cease doing what seems to us opportune in aid of this business, and this much have we, with the Senate, chosen to let your. Lordship know, praying you to write it to his Majesty.
Put to the ballot, to write accordingly to our ambassador with the Catholic King. (fn. 1)
Ayes, 165. Noes, 4. Neutrals, 4.
June 7. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 923. Michiel Surian, Venetian Ambassador In England, To The Doge And Senate.
I went to his Majesty yesterday, and although the present state of Christendom, and the events that have already taken place, as also what occurs daily, including the determination made by this kingdom to wage war on France, laid many difficulties before me, I nevertheless, having first had a mass of the Holy Spirit celebrated, and after a careful examination of your Serenity's letters, expatiated to the King on two points, the one your Serenity's constant wish for universal quiet, most especially that of Italy; the other, the safest and most advantageous way to attain it, viz., by an agreement. I said nothing about your having written to Rome, as it was unnecessary.
The King replied in a long discourse, which I will give at full length, although I must be rather prolix.
His Majesty said, in the first place, that he had always been extremely inclined towards the peace, and on this he laid great stress, alluding especially to his having so long feigned ignorance of the injuries done him by the Pope, and so long delayed recourse to arms, to which a sinister interpretation had been given disparaging his Majesty's dignity; and as the dignity and repute of princes is of no less importance to them than their states, he for his honour had been compelled to make war. He then said that he had always been inclined to revere the Holy Church, and would never have taken up arms against the Pope could he by other means have secured his kingdom of Naples, of which the Pope purposed depriving him. That if the affairs of that kingdom had been in such a state as to render its defence possible without invading others, his Majesty would never have attacked the Papal States, not having ever intended to go to war from an ambitious wish for additional territory, nor to seize what belonged to others, but solely to preserve what had been left him by his father, That it would have been too dangerous had he allowed a hostile army to approach the frontiers of his kingdom, and that he was therefore compelled to carry the war into the enemy's country rather than wait for it in his own.
He then added that, owing to his constant wish for the quiet of Italy, he had referred everything to your Serenity, and would do whatever you told him.
He had desired to humble himself to the Pope, and wrote him very friendly letters (lettere humanissime), but his Holiness did not choose to read them. The King sent his agents to Rome, some of whom were seized, some maltreated, and to the others the Pope would not give audience. Twice the King wrote to Cardinal Caraffa, and negotiated even with Fantuzzi, who, however, seemed to have gone to gain time rather than to make peace; nor has his Majesty failed to attempt a pacification in every way, but all in vain, through the Pope's obstinacy and harshness.
At present, however, his Holiness, seeing that his designs on the kingdom of Naples do not take effect, that the persons chosen by him for his allies (compagni) render themselves masters, that he is unable to sustain the cost and toil of war, and cannot occupy what belongs to others according to his wish, evinces a desire for peace; and whereas it seemed that he would not listen to a word about it, he has now spoken on the subject with the cardinals in the King's confidence, and who had heretofore received orders from him to treat of peace with his Holiness.
In conclusion, the King said that he has been compelled to incur great expense, to his own inconvenience and that of his subjects, for the preparations required for this war; that he would listen to peace if he believed it to be a true one, and without deceit, and if he could be sure of what belongs to him; but being unable to rely on this, he will not neglect such means as expedient for the defence and safety of his affairs.
Perceiving that nothing certain could be elicited from the King's discourse, and it seeming to me from his words that the peace with the Pope had been treated at Rome, I thought it advisable to make some rejoinder, both to see whether his Majesty would enter into detail, and also lest it should appear that the office performed by me in your Serenity's name was vain, and made solely for appearance's sake. I said that all his Majesty's actions in this matter had been most prudent, nor could any person of judgment interpret in a sinister sense his Majesty's delay in having recourse to arms, as sage and experienced statesmen (whose opinion is to. be held in account) always consider it a very virtuous and prudent quality (gran virtù et prudentia) to reserve war for the last of all remedies, and when compelled to have recourse to it, to do so at the very last moment, and with a mind turned towards peace whenever it can be reasonably hoped for; so the more the King shows that he is of this mind, the more is he praised and commended, nor could he form any resolve more advantageous, more safe, or more honourable than that of following up this his mind and disposition, and rendering himself the cause and author of the peace and quiet of Italy, of which that province and Christendom have such great need, I added that what his Majesty had said about the Pope's evincing a wish for peace was an opportunity afforded to his Majesty by the Almighty for reconciling himself to his Holiness, so that it was not to be despised nor allowed to escape, and that there was no doubt of the peace and friendship with the Pope being true, durable, and secure, his Holiness himself having been moved to ask it spontaneously.
The King replied that the Pope was moved not by any wish he had for peace, but from necessity, and because he was dissatisfied with the French.
I continued, that whatever the cause may be, it is a sign that the Pope places trust in his Majesty, nor is it natural to injure those on whom we rely, most especially if they show us kindness.
The King, apparently admitting what I said, answered very graciously that his will would always be in conformity with your Serenity's, and uttered many honourable words about the prudence, gravity, and authority of the most excellent Republic; adding that although he had received many injuries and suffered serious losses, incurring very heavy expenditure, he nevertheless would not mind that (tuttavia non miraria a quello), and were his kingdom of Naples secured to him by the Pope he would embrace his Holiness as a friend. Such were the precise words of his Majesty, nor did he say what sort of security he desired, speaking thus in general terms. He then continued that he could not think of peace with the King of France, being unable to trust him, as he sought to embroil everything contrary to his word (la fede sua) and to all reason. My belief is that his Majesty said this because, I having spoken always in general terms, he wished to let me understand that, although ready to make peace with the Pope, he did not intend to be so compliant with the most Christian King, and perhaps his Majesty said so for greater repute. But I, without swerving from my first topic, answered him with many thanks for his affection towards your Serenity, and greatly commended the peace and his inclination towards it. I said that so great a result as this would be must always be accompanied by difficulties, but that I hoped to see them all overcome by his Majesty's prudence and goodness, and that by embracing such opportunities as from time to time present themselves, and not allowing them to escape, he will easily bring about a good peace, which will greatly benefit the Italian states and all Christendom.
This is the summary of my discourse with the King, and as your Serenity's “office” concerning the peace was apparently not disagreeable to his Majesty, and may be of advantage to Christendom and Italy, and increase your Serenity's renown, I will not lose any opportunity for renewing it, and not merely with the King, but also expertly (destramente) with his councillors, always limiting myself to peace in general, without entering into any detail until I receive fresh orders from your Serenity.
London, 7th June 1557.
[Italian, partly in. cipher; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
June 7. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. (2nd letter.) 924. Michiel Surian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
After I had finished my discourse with the King, his Majesty said that having spoken about peace he would also speak of war. He then communicated to me the resolve (deliberazione) formed by this Kingdom to make war on the most Christian King, narrating distinctly the causes, as your Serenity will perceive by the accompanying document translated from the English, and which was proclaimed to-day in this city. (fn. 2) The herald has also been sent to France to declare war to the King there, according to the magnanimous custom of this realm, never to go to war without first giving notice.
When announcing this event to me the King said I was to write it to your Serenity, as he chose to impart all his affairs to you as to a prince united to him beyond all others, and very much his friend. Although, as the news was already current at the Court, it was no great matter for his Majesty to communicate it to me, I nevertheless remarked the affectionate manner in which he spoke of your Serenity; and certainly of late I perceive that he shows himself more and more gracious and respectful towards you, I say verbally, for of his mind I am unable to form an opinion. In the course of my remarks about peace, when I said that your Serenity from long experience knew it to be the best and only way to preserve the quiet of Italy, whilst War on the contrary was the road to its ruin, and that for his Majesty's own interest I frequently urged him in favour of peace, he being a prince in like manner concerned, as both by authority and territory he was one of the greatest, or rather the greatest; the King interrupting me said, “I am not greater than the others, nor will I be so, but choose to acknowledge all the Italian potentates as friends, and the Signory above all, as first of all in prudence and authority, and who to all can give sage and good counsel.” His Majesty evinced a great wish to form a closer union with your Serenity for the benefit of the common States, and of Italy, and of all Christendom, and although the Spanish nation is used to be very ceremonious (molto officiosa), yet these are not words such as princes ordinarily address to everybody.
But to return to this kingdom's declaration, those who ponder the causes adduced for making this war, which are in part stale and in part very slight, consider the said causes a proof that it is not wagged for the interest of the kingdom, but for the particular benefit of the, King. The right reverend Legate likewise seems to have given his authority to this resolution, as he was recalled from one of his villas (una sua villa), whither he retires occasionally, and remained here some days, departing immediately after it was made. I am told that his Majesty thinks of deriving hence the entire foundation of the war with France (et mi vien detto che Sua Maestà pensa di cavar di qua tutto il fondamento della guerra con Franza), as the hopes he had from Spain are not realised, whilst Flanders is overcharged extraordinarily at most times; but the King will not leave England until after the arrival of this blessed fleet (questa beata flotta), which has been so long expected, in order not so greatly to discontent the English as to make it appear that they are waging so great a war for others.
London, 7th June 1557.
[Italian, partly in cipher; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
June 8. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives?. 925. Michiel Surian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The fleet bound from Spain with Don Luis de Caravaial, and which had been so long expected, after performing half the voyage, fell in with a great number of French ships, for the most part fishing vessels, convoyed by some men of war; so there was a fight, the Spaniards being victorious and capturing six ships; but in the meanwhile the wind having changed, they were compelled to put back to Spain, much to the regret of the King and of the whole Court, as his Majesty's return to Flanders, and the waging of war on France, depend greatly on this fleet, to which further time must be given for its voyage.
The person who gave advice of this event reports this fleet to have on board 800,000 crowns, and some chief personages who come willingly to serve the King during the war; that Bon Buy Gomez found Spain in a very exhausted state, and that having made the last attempt (la ultima esperientia), he was unable to provide more than 2,000,000 of gold (though if that sum he obtained it is no small one). These 800,000 crowns form part of that supply, which is derived partly from the moneys of the Indies, part from taxes imposed (though that is very little), part from the sale of crown lands, and part from a subsidy offered spontaneously by the clergy, amounting to 600,000 ducats.
The charge of soliciting these supplies and of forwarding them is said to have been given to Don Diego de Mendoza, heretofore ambassador to your Serenity. They will not be ready before St. James's day at the end of next month, though it is said that the King will not wait here for the money, but that as soon as this first fleet arrives he will cross the Channel. Should he intend to take the field this year he cannot long delay doing so, as time is required to make the necessary preparations for the war, and we are already at midsummer, the departure hence being however impossible until July.
The resolve made by this kingdom to make war on the French does not greatly please these people, as besides the suppression of their trade, on which the kingdom may be said to subsist, they will have to pay constant subsidies for the maintenance of the war; and what weighs more with them than anything else, is to see that all this is being done for the benefit of aliens whom they detest, and most especially Spaniards. They also perceive that these last are thus given an opportunity for making themselves absolute masters of the kingdom, as they seem to be doing, for the Queen is bent on nothing else, by reason of the great love she bears her husband, (perchè la Regina attende con ogni suo studio a questo, per il grande amor che la porta al marito), and all the chief personages are already bound (obbligati) to the King, and his Majesty COM dispose of them at his pleasure.
Notwithstanding all this, many troops are being mustered for passage to Flanders, whither the principal commanders and those of the greatest importance will go; there will also be much soldiery on board the fleet and on the borders of Scotland, and in due time I will give more authentic account of their number. It is also reported that the English troops in Flanders will receive all their ammunition and victuals from hence, which will be a great alleviation for that province, where as yet it is not known that much preparation has been made, either for troops, victuals, or money.
The ambassador from Mantua told me yesterday as a great secret that Bon Ferrante [Gonzaga] has written hither to his son to let the King know that if the French are at all judicious, he gives the Milanese up for lost; and that although he has pondered the matter, he nevertheless can suggest but one remedy, which he himself will communicate to the King on his arrival, though he doubts whether even that can be of much assistance. I have been unable to ascertain what remedy this can be, as the ambassador assured me it was unknown to him. For many days a gentleman from the Cardinal of Trent has been here for money and other supplies, and although he solicits his despatch daily, he does not expect to depart before the arrival of Don Ferrante, to whose opinion many matters are now referred, though but little to the satisfaction of these Spanish ministers.
Two days hence the King will go to Hampton Court, and remain there four or six days for his amusement.
London, 8th June 1557.
[Italian, partly in cipher; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
June 8. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 926. Giacomo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The most Christian King left Fere for a seat of the Cardinal of Lorraine called Marchié (sic), but it was heard that at Avenay, a frontier town of King Philip, 16 leagues from Marchié, a muster of the enemy's troops was being made, in number 4,000 foot and 2,000 horse, so to avoid danger the King came to this city. It was heard subsequently that the Duke of Savoy being informed of his Majesty's approach towards this frontier, and thinking he might make some fresh invasion, these troops were mustered, being for the most part Walloons, who are held in very little account; but as the Court has retired they remain there; so the King has sent for 600 men-at-arms. According to report, his most Christian Majesty by the 1st of next month will have in these parts an army of 25,000 infantry, 1,200 men-at-arms, 2,500 light horse, and 200 blacksmiths (feraroli).
The “abate” Buchiero has arrived, to give the King account of the affairs of Rome, and was accompanied by a courier from M. de Guise with news of the retreat of the Duke of Alva; and Buchiero says the Pope will send 10,000 infantry to M. de Guise, 6,000 of whom will be Italians, and 4,000 Switzers. I have also been told on good authority, that the said Buchiero announces a very close negotiation for peace between the Pope and Cardinal Pachcco; so his Holiness will no longer raise the aforesaid troops, neither is the King expected to send to M. de Guise the 6,000 Germans and 3,000 Switzers already engaged by his Majesty. The distrust increases more than ever, his Holiness not having communicated anything about this to his most Christian Majesty.
The day before yesterday the English ambassador [Dr. Wotton] said to the most Christian King that his Queen wrote to him, that as he had been a long while here, and is now an old man, she was content that after taking leave of his most Christian Majesty he might return home and that he was also to tell his Majesty that the chief cause of the Queen's having kept him here until now was her hope of peace being effected between the King her husband and his Majesty; to which end she had not failed performing every sort of office; but that as matters were brought to such a pass that her Majesty no longer saw how she could hope for it, she deemed it superfluous to continue keeping an ambassador at this Court, and therefore the said ambassador prayed his most Christian Majesty to give him full permission (bona licentia). The King replied, that he gave it him readily (prontamente), remaining well satisfied with his proceedings, but that he well knew the direction of the Queen's thoughts, concerning which there was no occasion to say anything farther; and when the ambassador asked for a safeconduct to depart, his Majesty told him that not only would he give him a passport, but a gentleman to accompany him along all these frontiers. After he had taken leave of the King, and of all the chief personages of the Court, his Majesty sent him a present of 1,200 crowns, and shortly afterwards a herald sent by the Queen waited on the. Constable and inquired if he could speak to the most Christian King, showing him his letters patent, on the perusal of which the Constable told him he was welcome, but as the King had already gone out hunting and would not return until the morrow, he must await his Majesty's return, but that in the meanwhile he would be well received and honoured (ben veduto et honorato), the Constable embracing him and telling him moreover to perform his office without scruple. This event, which has taken place so suddenly, causes no slight anxiety, as, although the Queen's determination was known, it was hoped that open war would not ensue; and it is quite evident (et chiaramente si conosce) that this country holds no other war in account but that with England, although the forces of that kingdom are not what they used to be.
After performance by the ambassador of the aforesaid office, immediate notice was sent to the French ambassador in England, ordering him also to take leave immediately; and mandates were despatched in every direction for the seizure of such Englishmen and their effects and ships as could be found in this realm, although they will find but few, as many days ago the ambassador urged everybody to depart. Fresh orders have also been sent both to Britany and Normandy for all the places on the coast to keep well provided and to fit out the greatest number of ships they can; but the King having only a few of his own, it is thought that he will find it difficult to send a royal fleet (armata reale) to sea, and that he will only be able to give letters of marque (licenza) to privateers to go out robbing (che eschino rubando).
The ambassador from England went to visit the Nuncio here, to take leave of him, saying he performed this office as a due mark of the respect borne by his Queen towards his Holiness. He then did the like by me from respect for your Serenity, in addition to which, from the beginning, when I first went to England, (fn. 3) he has always been much my friend. Talking about this herald he told me that the causes which principally moved the Queen to this war, were this attempt by Stafford to create disturbance in England, he having done so by order and with the assistance of the most Christian King, he Stafford having confessed the whole in detail. The Queen moreover considered herself greatly wronged by the harbour, given by the King to her rebels, to which she attributed all the commotions that chanced in England, she being very well aware of the end f or which the King of France favoured them. Wotton complained of this several times, but the King always seemed to disavow it (ma sempre lei havea mostrato di non intendere). He also told me that the plunder of effects belonging to English subjects on several occasions had not a little irritated the Queen, and so much, that she at length came to this determination. When I asked him whether amongst the causes which would be adduced by the herald for this war, there was any one purporting that it was from regard for the King of Spain, he answered me that there were none (che nessuna), because the Queen chose to wage the war in particular (particolarmente), on account of the injuries which she and her kingdom had received from the King of France, and not by reason of the quarrels (querele) of others.
Rheims, 8th June 1557.
[Italian, partly in cipher, the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
June 9. Original Despatch., “Venetian Archives. 927. Giacomo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The King, having returned from hunting, after holding deliberate consultation (buona consultatione) about the mode in which he was to give the English herald (fn. 4) audience, sent word to all the ambassadors, including also me, that we were to go to him today at noon, because as we must have heard this herald had arrived, his Majesty wished to give him audience in our presence. Those now here having gone, namely the Nuncio, the one from Portugal, from your Serenity, and from Ferrara, his Majesty said to us that this herald was come, he without demanding the ordinary safeconduct having come by way of Boulogne, reporting himself to be the servant of the English ambassador; so although according to law instead of being admitted he ought to be hanged as a spy, yet nevertheless, his Majesty not wishing to proceed with such rigour, chose to admit him, and willed to call us ambassadors as witnesses of this fact. Then the Constable, repeating the same apart, said, “In truth had the King chosen to accept my counsel he would have had him hanged, but the King is too good.” His Majesty having ascended a throne under the canopy, the herald was introduced, with the tabard (cotta) of the emblems (insegne) of England over his arm (sopra il braccio), as usually borne on these occasions by the heralds. He wishing to commence speaking without presenting the patent (la patente), the King asked him who sent him, and he answering the Queen of England my mistress (la Regina d'Inghilterra mia signora), the King said, “Where is the patent?” (dove è la patente?) and he then produced it, and being taken by a secretary it was read aloud. It was written (scritta) on the first of the present month, in the name of the Queen of England, without naming the King her husband, and after certain ordinary words it says she is sending the present herald to defy the most illustrious Henry, most Christian King of France, to war, as the said herald will set forth, her Majesty promising to hold as ratified and confirmed (rato et fermo) whatever he shall say or do. When the reading of this patent was concluded the King said that without farther words he accepted the defiance (la diffida), hoping that in like manner as the Majesty of God had prospered his predecessors and himself against that kingdom, so now His Divine Majesty would do the same more than ever; the which hope might increase by reason of the other victories and prosperous events it had pleased His Majesty to concede him; and that as the herald came in the name of a woman it was unnecessary for him to listen to anything farther, as he would have done had he come in the name of a man, to whom he would have replied in detail (particolarmente); and therefore his Majesty desired the herald to depart immediately, as he did. Then the King, turning towards us ambassadors, said,” Each of your Lordships has heard this defiance, which you will be pleased to communicate to your Princes;” and taking us into his chamber he said to us laughing, “Consider how I stand when a woman sends to defy me to war, but I doubt not that God will assist me.” The Constable, being told that the herald was in very great fear of his life, gave an order to comfort him with the gift of a chain worth 300 crowns. Your Serenity having heard by my letter of the 8th what the English ambassador told me about the herald's having to declare the causes of this defiance, you may reasonably infer that his most Christian Majesty, having perhaps heard them, would not allow the herald to speak, to avoid entering into their justification (per non intrare in queste giustificationi).
Rheims, 9th June 1557.
[Italian, partly in cipher; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
June 10. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives. 928. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
The Pope persisting in his determination to call the Cardinals to Rome, Cardinal Medici (according to what he told my secretary) strongly urged his Holiness in the Congregation of the Inquisition to allow a few days to pass (perchè scorresse qualche giorno), telling him that if he calls them at present, before peace is made, many of them, and precisely those who are of consequence (ch' importano), will not come; and were the Pope to send them monitories the cursitors would be killed or imprisoned, their presentation being thus rendered impossible, nor would the Cardinals come; and should his Holiness choose to “deprive” them, they will neither obey him nor devest their habit, but on the contrary unite together and head the schism (e faranno capo al scisma), which may be said to be already formed, the Pope not having obedience at present from the realms of King Philip. His Holiness said that he did not fear the schism, as they had nothing to reproach him with; to which the Cardinal replied that if unable to allege true things against him they will bring false charges, as they will have no lack of false witnesses who will believe them, so it would be well to make peace first and then call them, in which case they would be compelled to obey him. Cardinal Medici says that he hopes the Pope will at least delay issuing such a brief (simil breve) (qu. monitory) during this present summer season.
In date of the 26th, (fn. 5) 27th, and 28th ultimo, letters have arrived. from the King and Queen of England, asking the Pope as a favour to restore the legation to Cardinal Pole. There remains to be seen the resolve of his Holiness, who thus far has given fair words to Queen Mary's ambassador, to whom (as asserted by the agent of Cardinal Pole) King Philip has sent a commission to treat the agreement with his Holiness, according to an instruction sent to him, and with the counsel of Cardinal Pacheco., and the knowledge of the Duke of Alva. This is done because heretofore (as written by me) Cardinal Pacheco wrote to King Philip, as did the Duke of Florence likewise, that the Pope complained of never having had a letter from his Majesty, nor of ever having seem anyone in his name. This agent says, moreover, that should the Pope give them hope of agreeing, they would write to the Duke of Alva to suspend hostilities whilst they are negotiating, and until they have a reply from the King about the conclusion, I know not what to affirm to your Serenity respecting this commission given to the English ambassador, my utmost diligence having failed to obtain for me particulars through any other channel, though this gentleman being the agent of such a personage as he is might know the fact; but what I know for certain is that every day of late first Cardinal Pacheco and then Sir Edward Carne, and sometimes both together, have several times been for a long while with the Pope. This 1 know because the ambassador from Florence said so to my secretary, and also showed him the letter which his Duke is sending to the Duke of Alva about the fitness of King Philip's making peace with the Pope.
Marshal Strozzi arrived here yesterday at 9 p.m.; he had a long conference with the Pope and Cardinal Caraffa, but all that has transpired hitherto is that the French army will remain for some days.
Rome, 10th June 1557.
June 10. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 929. Giacomo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
I announced to the Constable your desire for his most Christian Majesty to do what was fitting for the negotiation of peace, adding that you had performed a similar office both with the Pope and the King of Spain. His Excellency said that he should he considered a worthless minister, and opposed to every virtue, had he not always counselled his Majesty to seek the quiet of his realm and the universal repose of Christendom, provided it could be effected to his honour and dignity; and that it was evident that neither ambition to obtain the kingdom of Naples, nor anything else, had induced him to wage war with King Philip, having deferred it (dissimulato) as long as he could; doing the like also with the Queen of England, who had allowed such serious injury to be done to his subjects, that it far exceeded what might be anticipated from open war; but that his Majesty, from his wish for peace, had always dissembled, not from want of forces, as it was seen how his affairs were proceeding, but solely for the sake of not causing greater disturbance to Christendom; so in like manner as hitherto his Majesty had preferred peace to war, thus would he do at present, and especially through the medium of your Serenity; wherefore the offer made by you would be agreeable to the King, who for your sake would also be inclined to do much more than for any other mediator, and would to God that before my departure from this kingdom so good a result could be obtained by me.
I made a becoming reply, and when introduced to the King, after expressing myself as above, his Majesty said to me, “I have told you my mind several times, and again confirm the like to you, that whenever fair terms shall be offered me I will not fail to accept them, although they might be somewhat to my detriment, as nothing moved, me to this war but the observance of my promise. I am obliged to the Signory f or showing me this goodwill, and let them, know that for their sake I will do more than for any other Prince whatever (farò più che per qualsivoglia altro Principe); and I really should be very glad if you in particular had this business in hand, knowing you to be of such a sort (conoscendovi tale) as to give hope of good fruit,” with other words on this subject, which it is unnecessary to repeat. This part of the conversation ended by the King's repeating that he was very well disposed, and that he should be better pleased with peace to his detriment, than with war to his advantage.
In reply to my inquiries about news from Italy, the King said that M. de Brissac had commenced another mine under Cuneo, and that unless it took speedy effect he would again batter the town, and then retreat if unsuccessful. He then said that he was sending 4,000 Switzers into Italy, and that if the Duke of Ferrara needed them they would be at his service, and if he did not they would pass to the Duke de Guise, adding, “For the Duke of Ferrara I will do this, and whatever else he may require.” I asked if his Majesty was sending the 6,000 Germans as he told me heretofore; and he replied, “Not at present, as the Switzers will suffice, the Germans being too far off.” In reply to my inquiry about the Marquis of Pescara's hostilities against the Duke of Ferrara, he said, “The Marquis is with troops at Guastalla, a place belonging to Don Ferrante, and threatens greatly, but will do what he can.” When I asked if there were any advices from M. de Guise, his Majesty said, “Not since the retreat of the Duke of Alva, who by retreating did his duty, as the governor of a kingdom ought never to fight a battle;” and he added, “The Duke of Paliano is in the army and behaving very well.” I asked if it was true that the Pope was raising troops. “Yes,” said his Majesty, “he is raising from 5,000 to 6,000 Italians, and has sent to the Switzers to hold a diet, that he may raise 4,000 of them, but has not yet received the decision;” and I added that a report also circulated of the Pope's not being adverse to the negotiation for an agreement. His Majesty replied, “Thus does it seem to be said, but as for me I do not believe it; words of this sort have been often uttered, but never proved true.”
His Majesty then said that the troops for these frontiers would soon be ready; that the 6,000 Germans were already near at hand, and would be followed by another 4,000, there being also a considerable amount of French infantry who would soon be under arms; “so” (he said) “I hope I shall defend myself against the defiance (dalla diffida) which as you heard yesterday, was sent me by a woman;” my answer being that his Majesty's potency, as demonstrated in every quarter, was such that no Christian Prince had greater, and I then asked him what provision the Queen of England was making for the war. He replied, “In truth nothing; she gives her husband 6,000 infantry and 500 horse, and he is to pay them, a thing which seems scarcely credible, though indeed the fleet will be paid by the Queen, who, I can tell you for certain, did what she has done against me under compulsion, her husband having given her to understand that unless she declared herself he would depart that kingdom, and never return thither to see her.” I inquired whether, besides the provisions aforesaid, the Queen was making any other preparations to carry into effect the defiance she had sent him. He answered, “Assuredly nothing, so you may know that she was forced to do what she has done.” His Majesty then commenced a merry conversation, telling me about the Queen's jealousy of the Duchess of Lorraine, who had therefore been compelled to depart thence, and he communicated to me many particulars about dances, &c, which it is unnecessary to write; and having been a long while with his Majesty, after returning him the usual thanks I took my leave. I will not omit to add that in my conversations about the peace, first with the Constable and then with the King, neither one nor the other made any mention whatever of the Pope, which I think worthy of notice; as also that although according to my letter of the 8th the Nuncio was told that the 6,000 Germans would go to M. de Omise, yet nevertheless to me the King said they were no longer to be sent. The Walloons who were here at Avenay have retreated into the country, so in this neighbourhood things are again very quiet.
Rheims, 10th June 1557.
[Italian, partly in cipher; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]


  • 1. This announcement made by Doge Lorenzo Priuli to Don Francisco de Vargas, was transcribed on the 8th June and sent to London to Michiel Surian, who acknowledged its receipt in a letter dated 27th June 1557.
  • 2. See also Machyn, date 7th June 1557 (p. 138).
  • 3. The letter to Edward VI. from Doge Francesco Donado, appointing Giacomo Soranzo his ambassador in England, is dated 3rd January 1551. (See Venetian Calendar, vol. 5, p.334.)
  • 4. Norroy King-at-Arms.
  • 5. See Foreign Calendar, “Mary,” 26th May 1557, p. 311.