Venice: August 1557, 1-15

Pages 1237-1252

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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August 1557, 1–15

Aug. 4. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 979. Giacomo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
After the retreat of the Spanish forces from Rocroy, they remained on that frontier, not without causing much suspicion to Marienburg, lest they might return to Rocroy, but after departing thence, and approaching another fortress called La Capelle, though without halting, they did the like by Guise. On hearing this, the Constable marched from Notre Dame de Liesse with 10,000 Germans and 6,000 French, 3,500 of whom had joined him lately, and the rest were taken from fortresses in his rear, together with 5,000 cavalry to follow the enemy's army at some little distance (un poco a largo). But the enemy continuing their march, some of their bands (bande) made their appearance at St. Quentin, with the white crosses, to make the town's people believe that they were his most Christian Majesty's soldiers, with the intention of entering the citadel furtively by means of ladders which were kept outside the town for a pontoon which was in course of construction. They hoped to accomplish the undertaking easily, having heard there was no other garrison within than the usual municipal train-bands, who, with 1,200 of the town's people, are bound to defend themselves; but accidentally, on the evening before, the Dauphin's company of 100 men-at-arms was quartered within it in order to continue their march next morning to join the Constable. On the approach of the enemy's vanguard to seize the ladders, whilst the rest of the army was advancing, the garrison recognizing them skirmished until they obtained the ladders, two of the French men-at-arms [Scots ?] being killed and some twenty of the enemy; so although the undertaking failed, the army nevertheless on its arrival encamped there. The Constable in the meanwhile, hearing of the enemy's advance, immediately despatched the Admiral with 300 men-at-arms and two bands (bande) of infantry, with orders to do their utmost to enter St. Quentin. The Admiral marching the whole night appeared under the fortress at daybreak, where the enemy had been unable to encamp, on account of a morass, and in the sight of them, without difficulty, with the entire force (con tutta la guarnisone), entered the place; so it is considered certain that the enemy will retire from St. Quentin, though nothing more is known hitherto. The Constable with his aforesaid forces is at La Fere, a place distant seven leagues from St. Quentin, and according to their march in one direction or another, his Excellency will do the like, and by the 10th instant it is said for certain that the Gascons with the rest of the cavalry, and the field artillery (l'artiglieria campale) (which has already left Paris), will have arrived.
The Constable assures the King daily that there is no cause for apprehension, as the enemy will effect nothing of importance, every provision being now ready. His Excellency has broken 500 French infantry, who did not seem to him good troops, preferring a lesser army and a better one, to one enlarged by raw recruits, as required by the plan of his intended defence.
The Duke of Ferrara has had account given to the King by his ambassador of what took place at Guastalla, apologizing for the number of his troops being less than was required, but that he sent them, anticipating collusion as arranged by him, in which he was disappointed. But in matters relating to the war, his Excellency's name here is in such small repute as to defy diminution, it being said that when he might easily have obtained Coreggio, and then recovered it, thus rendering the fortification of Guastalla unnecessary, he allowed it to escape him, to save his money; and then when he wished to do so he had neither orders to that effect nor the ability for knowing how to do it (nè modo di saperlo fare); yet nevertheless not a word is heard of distrust, but merely of dissatisfaction and disesteem.
The most Christian King has given the merchants of Lyons to understand that they may remain secure, as the more King Philip has failed in the promises given by him to his creditors, the more is he (King Henry) confirmed in his intention of fully maintaining what he promised them, knowing what becomes the honour of a prince; and he has again had 300,000 crowns from the German merchants, besides the 200,000 received by him a few days ago, with interest at the rate of 16 per cent. as usual.
Compiegne, 4th August 1557.
[Italian, partly in cipher; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
Aug. 5. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives. (1st letter.) (fn. 1) 980. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
My secretary has learnt that when Marshal Strozzi discovered the order given by the most Christian King to M. de Guise to depart with the whole army, and to abandon the Pope, and to make war on Parma, he came in haste to Rome to see whether the Pope had power to make the agreement with the Imperialists, that he might effect it before the departure of M. de Guise; but finding him most obstinate he had recourse to another remedy, which was to persuade the Pope to send the “Marchesino,” the Duke of Paliano's son, to France, and thus detain M. de Guise until the King sent fresh orders. The Pope consented, on condition that the Marshal should go to the King to justify his Holiness with his Majesty from the three principal charges brought against him by the French, viz., that he had not placed the promised fortresses in their hands; that he had not made their cardinals; and that here they had failed to provide the necessary supplies of money, troops, and ammunition. On arriving at the French Court the Marshal informed the King that Cardinal Caraffa caused the promise of the fortresses to be made to his Majesty without the Pope's consent. Cardinal Caraffa is, however, writing to the King, that if the Pope says that the promise of the fortresses was not given with his consent, he cannot contradict his Holiness, to whom he affirms, on the other hand, that if the King says he had the promise of the fortresses from him, he cannot contradict his Majesty. With regard to the cardinals, he apologized for the Pope, in like manner, so that the King was pacified. He says that when the Duke de Guise arrives the first thing to be done will be to succour Paliano; concerning which, he added, that on Monday, at the garden in Trastevere, Cardinal Caraffa, Paliano, and the Marshal being there in consultation about victualling Paliano, the Cardinal having said something about what was more than feasible, the Duke rejoined, “Monsignore, by these lies you betray the Pope, the King of France, and his ministers (Monsignor, con queste carote, assassinate il Papa, il Re di Francia, ed i suoi ministri); you ruin the world, you lay waste Italy, you exterminate our family, and myself in particular, having, from inability to do worse, deprived me of my only son; I have borne with you, I can no longer do so (non posso più); I shall communicate the whole to the Pope, and proclaim you for what you are.”
The Cardinal replied, “Thou thinkest that this coif will make me show thee respect, I will throw it away, and will make thee appear an irrational animal (e ti faro parere una bestia).” The Duke stepped back to draw his sword, and the Cardinal flinging his coif on the ground flew at his throat, but the Marshal, who was the only person present, separated them. The Duke departed in a fury (arrabbiato (sic)), declaring that he would go instantly to the Pope, and saying, as he went forth, so loudly that many persons heard him, “This traitor is born for the ruin of the world.” The Marshal, who remained with the Cardinal, told him that he would go to the Pope and represent this case as adroitly as possible, and contrive so that his Holiness should enjoin silence and effect a reconciliation between them; but the Cardinal replied that he was not apprehensive of the Duke's having more credit with the Pope than he had, and that he had the heart (che li bastava l'animo) to ruin him utterly, by telling his Holiness that his wife [Violante Garlonia], by showing him that their son was lost, had deranged his intellects, thus causing him to make this commotion (questa sfranacanza (sic)). It was said afterwards by one of the Duke's intimates that he went to the Pope, and was followed by the Cardinal, and that his Holiness imposed silence, but yesterday when the Marshal asked the Cardinal if he had spoken about this affair to the Pope, he said he had not.
The Pope, immediately on seeing the Marshal, said, “My son, I did not expect you to find me alive, we were about to go to the Lord God; we had our mouth closed so that they were compelled to force it open with a spoon; for a week we lived on jelly-broth alone (di stillato solamente), for at table we could cut nothing whatever; we ordered the Cardinal to recall his brothers hither; we recommended the College of Cardinals to him (li raccommandassemo il Collegio de Cardinali), praying him to seek the election of a good Pontiff, and exhorted him to have patience, but our hour not being yet come, we had a night's rest, our appetite returned, and we are brisker than ever.” (fn. 2)
Rome, 5th August 1557.
Aug. 5. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives. (2nd letter.) 981. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
A courier from England, who left the Court at Richmond on the 26th ultimo, arrived here last Tuesday, and notwithstanding such great speed he brings but three letters, one from the Queen to her ambassador, one to the Pope, also from her Majesty, and one from the friar lately elected cardinal. The friar apologises to the Pope for not accepting either the hat or the legation, as both are too great a burden for his old and feeble shoulders. The Queen writes that although his Holiness has not granted her request instantly, she believes that he will do like the Lord, who, when entreated more than once, at length satisfies those who pray to Him heartily; so she again prays and supplicates the Pope to restore the legation in the person of Cardinal Pole, and to pardon her if she professes to know the men who are good for the government of her kingdom better than his Holiness, and also if she wonders that a legate, after confirmation by him, and after performance of so many good works that it may be said with truth that through him alone England resumed her obedience to the Church, should be recalled without cause; her Majesty also protesting that should any disturbance take place in England, it will be on this account, but that so far as in her power she would do her utmost to prevent it. Cardinal Pole's letter to his agent consists but of six lines, signed by Monsignor Priuli, to the effect that he is sending a messenger of his to the Pope, and therefore writes nothing further.
Although the Pope continues to dine in private he is said to be well, and to-day he attended the congregation of the Inquisition till Gh. 30m. p.m. The English ambassador has not yet had audience of his Holiness, although he asked for it yesterday, and was at the Vatican in person to-day from noon till the Inquisition adjourned, when the Pope sent him word to take patience, as he was tired.
Rome, 5th August 1557.
Aug. 5. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives. (3rd letter.) 982. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Chiefs of the Council of Ten.
The person who communicated to my Secretary what I write in the public letters, is the Signor Flaminio da Stabio, the brother-in-law of Marshal Strozzi, from whose own lips he says he had it, and on other occasions he said many true things, of which from time to time I advised your Serenity.
Rome, 5th August 1557.
Aug. 7. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives. 983. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
To-day the ambassador from England had audience of his Holiness, and on presenting his letter from the Queen, the Pope during its perusal, by the expression of his countenance and the movement of his whole frame, evinced exasperation (segni d'alteratione). He having read it, the ambassador presented him with the one from Friar Peto, and then said to his Holiness that he prayed him, seeing the Queen's submission and reverence for him, such as would perhaps not have been shown him by any other sovereign, that he would be pleased to grant her demand. The Pope remained a long while without answering, and then said, “This is a matter of very great importance; we will confer with the cardinals our brethren, and give you a reply.” The ambassador rejoined, that the Lords and Gentlemen of England (li Baroni e Signori del Regno) seeing a legate created by his Holiness' predecessors, with his assent when he was cardinal, and subsequently confirmed by him as Pope, recalled without cause, are so angry (sono di sorte alterati), that even should the Queen choose to endure this thing they would raise some great tumult, so that for the consolation of England, and for the benefit of the See Apostolic, he prayed him not to deny her Majesty this favour.
The Pope replied, “We have told you that we will argue the matter, and answer you;” and when the ambassador asked when he could return for the reply, the Pope said, “We will send to call you,” and thus dismissed him.
Rome, 7th August 1557
Aug. 7. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 984. Giacomo S ranzo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Yesterday afternoon the most Christian King remained a long while in council, and 20 captains were despatched to raise 20 companies of French troops, in number about 6,000 infantry; the captains having been ordered according as they procure the troops to send them on to Hoggion (sic) [Hinson ?], a city four leagues hence, and nearer to St. Quentin, where they will receive the necessary arms. It has also been determined to send for a levy of 5,000 Germans from the territory near Lorraine and a Colonel Rincherot is to use all haste to raise them immediately, and to take them to the army before the end of this month. They have also sent off secretary Aubespine to the Constable to hear his Excellency's opinion about some other provision for the war; and I have heard that, in the name of his most Christian Majesty, he will tell the Constable that the King chooses him (volle) not to fail doing everything possible to hold St. Quentin, and that his Majesty is very angry that a fortress of such great importance should not have been better provided than it is; for which at the Court much blame is laid very publicly, not only on the Admiral, (fn. 3) but also on the Constable himself, who both in virtue of his office, and as commander-in-chief (generale) of the enterprise (impresa), should have had greater diligence used than what is seen by the result. The Constable enclosed a letter from the Admiral, who is in St. Quentin, telling his Excellency that he has no fear of not defending himself stoutly against the enemy, and when the Admiral went into St. Quentin he was accompanied by the Constable's third son. His Excellency also writes that he had, not yet decided whether to go with his forces to Ham and join the Marshal de St. Andrá [Jacques d'Albon] posting himself midway between Compiegne and St. Quentin, thus preventing the forays made by the enemy in this direction, and simultaneously depriving them of the opportunity for pushing forward without any impediment; or, whether he should cross to the “Castelletto” (sic), a French fortress between St. Quentin and Cambrai, to intercept the victuals which are constantly sent to the hostile army. This morning a person arrived from Ham, bringing news that the infantry with M. d'Andelot, (fn. 4) who were killed, numbered about 500, although the Constable reported but 50 or 60; and that the troops of the King of England had commenced mining.
The Gascon troops are still on their march and have already commenced joining the army, together with 17 field pieces, brought from Paris; and the report continues, that on the army's being reinforced by these fresh forces now mustering, the King in person will go thither, and from what his chief intimates say, he very much wishes to be there, and complains of the many necessary supplies not having been provided in time, he himself in person now attending constantly to their despatch, nor does he neglect anything; neither has he any other councillor about him but the Cardinal of Lorraine.
The sons of the Duke of Paliano and of the Marquis of Montebello arrived at the Court to-day.
Compiegne, 7th August 1557.
[Italian, partly in cipher; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
Aug. 11. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 985. Giacomo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
When I was on the point of going to the most Christian King, a message came to me that his Majesty having just received unexpected advice that the Constable with the army had encountered the enemy's forces, and been worsted, his Majesty was in the act of making many necessary provisions for the remedy of such disaster (per resareir un caso tale), wherefore the Cardinal advised me for my safety and convenience to go immediately to Paris; to which I replied I would do so. Subsequently I learned that at this very hour, news arrived that yesterday the Constable wishing to put 1,000 infantry into St. Quentin marched with all his forces and succeeded very easily; but on his return when about to cross the river Somme, the enemy attacked and routed him, killing many of his troops, neither his Excellency nor the Marshal de St. Andrá having been found, though it is hoped that they have saved themselves in some neighbouring fortress. This has also been confirmed to me through another channel, though the particulars are narrated variously. From what I hear, the King likewise will return to Paris, not being in safety here, as it is not a fortified place, and the enemy are near at hand, the gates of the town being already closed, and the confusion usual in similar cases begins to be felt; I likewise being now about to depart for Paris; but as no provision whatever is made either here or elsewhere, the mischief might make itself felt more and more daily.
Compiegne, 11th August 1557.
[Italian; the passage in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
Aug. 11. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. (2nd letter.) 986. Giacomo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Signor Scipion da Piovene is being sent to Italy, to make M. de Guise return immediately, postwise. The ambassador from Ferrara has also been despatched to his Duke, to make him in this great casualty not fail rendering pecuniary assistance, and every other supply in his power. From hour to hour the rout of the army seems to become greater and greater, nor is any personage of consequence known to have escaped. At this hour the King is departing for Paris.
Compiegne, 11th August 1557.
Aug. 11. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 987. Michael Surian, Venetian Ambassador with King Philip, to the Doge and Senate.
The Admiral is in St. Quentin and not outside as reported. King Philip's forces have made themselves masters of the suburb of St. Quentin which is towards France, and they have quartered 3,000 men there for its custody, with great hope of taking the town shortly. I have had a letter from the Count de Feria, who, besides confirming some of the particulars written by me, writes that his Majesty will soon go to the camp, as although the French had not duly provisioned the town, it is nevertheless a strong place, and the Constable of France is within four leagues of it with succour, and they have the river to assist them, so King Philip must go in person, to make every possible effort to prevent him; and that the troops mustered by the French amount to 20,000 foot, and a large body of cavalry; so to blockade the town it is necessary to divide his Majesty's camp. Thus does the Count write to me, and then this evening advice arrived that yesterday morning the Duke of Savoy defeated and routed a great number of French troops who were on their march to succour St. Quentin; many colours being taken, and many persons being killed, wounded, and captured. Those named are the Rhinegrave, commander-in-chief of the German troops; M. d'Enghien; and M. de St. Pol; many knights of St. Michael; and many of the French nobility. It is also said that the Constable is a prisoner, but without any certain foundation, it usually happening that the first bearers of important news do not know the details, each of them inventing according to their own fashion; but all agree in this, that the French have suffered a great rout, and that there is no longer any hope for St. Quentin.
The King had not yet left to go to the camp, because the French were scouring the road between Cambrai (fn. 5) and St. Quentin, at a place called Le Catelet, but he was to depart to-day, escorted by the English troops, and by 3,000 Walloons and 500 Spaniards.
Brussels, 11th August 1557.
Aug. 12. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 988. Michiel Surian, Venetian Ambassador with King Philip, to the Doge and Senate.
Although the whole of this city is full (è piena) of the capture of the Constable, there is not as yet any certain account of it.
The King went in person to the army yesterday, and during the action a succour of 500 infantry entered St. Quentin, but it is not believed that the place can make much resistance against a powerful and victorious army.
Brussels, 12th August 1557.
Aug. 13. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 989. Giacomo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
On the evening of the 11th, when all the rest of the court left Compiegne, the King chose to remain there for the despatch in every direction of orders providing for this present important need. Then on the morrow he departed and arrived here to-day; and the chief provisional measures with which I am acquainted hitherto are as follows. Besides the recall of M. de Guise, the King has also sent for M. de Termes who is in Piedmont, and for Marshal Strozzi likewise, but of this I am less sure than of the recall of the other two. He has also sent to raise another 4,000 Germans besides the 6,000 already despatched, and even a yet greater amount if it can possibly be obtained. He has, moreover sent all over France, to raise the best infantry that can be got, and according to report, he would wish (if possible) for as many as 40,000, and the beat of drum has already commenced; whilst from the Parisians he for the present demands 25,000 paid infantry, which they seem ready to grant him, but they have not yet determined to pay any but this city's guard, nor would they wish to contribute for those who should take the field. This does not satisfy the King, who wishes them to supply the whole number, that he may make use of it for what is required according to his own judgment (deliberamente), so it is said that they will at length comply with his decided wish. Very stringent orders have also been sent to re-embody the cavalry, to which will be added some that were garrisoned in certain fortresses; and they will also call out the reserve rear-bands (le arriere bande), which did not take part in this action, as likewise his Majesty's household and body-guard, so that the number of cavalry will be greater than it was before. They are also intent on raising money by all means possible, and to say the truth, very great inclination is visible on the part of everyone to contribute for this need, much affection being demonstrated universally for his Majesty, who, by reason of his natural graciousness, and from the opinion entertained by all Frenchmen of his valour and prudence, is so generally beloved that they will not deny him anything. In all these environs the panic is very great, most especially in this city, where some of the gates have been closed, good guard being placed at the others, although it is not heard that the enemy have advanced (si siano allargati) beyond the siege of St. Quentin; and to curb this dense population, which of its nature is most cowardly (vilissimo), and therefore very easily tumultuate on the slightest suspicion (et per ciò molto facile per ogni mediocre sospetto a far tamulto), all provisional measures are taken as secretly as possible, the necessity being dissembled. The utmost is done to prevent persons of a certain quality from going out of the city with their goods (con li loro beni), as many of them wished to do, having loaded a number of carts and barges, to send them away, but they have all been stopped, and it is hoped that the King's presence will now keep them yet more in check. The Ferrarese ambassador is still here owing to a slight attack of fever, and the chief cause of his mission is understood to be the confirmation of Duke Hercules II. in his goodwill towards King Henry from fear lest this so great a commotion, by increasing his natural timidity, induce him to form some new thought, and at the same time to exhort his Excellency as the King's commander-in-chief in Italy, to render him such offices and assistance as may be required by his necessities.
Paris, 13th August 1557.
[Italian; the passage in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
Aug. 13. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. (2nd letter.) 990. Giacomo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
After what I wrote on the 11th, having had the opportunity to speak with a gentleman my friend, who was present in the affair of the rout of the army (il quale s'è ritrovato nel falto delta votta del-l'essecito), I will write you what he related to me.
On the 9th, at noon, the Constable with the army of 16,000 foot and 7,000 horse, being quartered near La Fere, ordered the chief lords and gentlemen to go to rest, because at night he intended to undertake a certain expedition (perchè la notte voleca fare qualche fazione), so everybody having retired accordingly, and returning to his Excellency at 5.30 p.m., he again dismissed them saying that he had determined to defer the expedition till the next morning. At midnight he made the infantry and cavalry commence their march, not prohibiting conveyance of the necessary conveniences, so a number of baggage-horses were sent in advance. At 2.40 a.m. [on the 10th], his Excellency went forth in armour, accompanied by a number of lords, and continuing his march, arrived with the army at a hill near St. Quentin, opposite to the one on which the town is situated, the two hills being so near each other that the space between them is almost completely occupied by the river Somme. The hostile army being encamped on the other side of the town, the two were separated solely by the stream; but the enemy's infantry lying in ambush on the Constable's side, his Excellency sent some of his companies against them, thus causing their retreat. Simultaneously discharging a battery of 12 pieces of artillery which commanded a position on the other side, where the enemy were encamped near the river, he dislodged them, thus obtaining an opportunity for launching in the lake formed by the Somme near the town, 15 boats which he had had brought upon carts, but from mismanagement not only was much time lost but three of the boats sank, and in the remaining 12, having embarked some 200 foot soldiers with M. d'Andelot, general of the infantry, they all got safe into the town; but not having made suitable arrangements for the boats to return with a reinforcement of upwards of 1,000 additional foot soldiers, they remained there, and four hours' time having been lost in this expedition, the Constable ordered the army to return towards its quarters six leagues off.
Whilst this time was being wasted, a considerable number of the enemy's cavalry was seen continually fording the river one after another (alla sfilata) towards where the Constable was, and he and the rest of his staff being warned of this, they would not bring themselves to believe that they were the enemy's horse, declaring them to be their own, who had crossed the river to skirmish, and would return; and without ascertaining the fact farther they commenced their march. But subsequently seeing the enemy's squadrons to increase more and more, and that to the number of about 6,000 horse, divided into four, they repeatedly pursued them; the Constable made his army halt, to hear something certain thus losing much time. Finally, seeing the enemy's right and left wings draw near each other, leaving the other two squadrons a little in the rear, the Constable on ascending a hill midway on his march again halted, and moved the artillery which was in the German squadron, placing it in that of the French infantry, thus losing half an hour's time, which was the cause of all the mischief, for had they not halted so often, they would have been safe and sound in a wood near at hand. During that interval, the enemy having approached them, some French cavalry commenced skirmishing, 300 horse of the French right wing charging one of the enemy's squadrons of Blacksmiths (Feraroli), (fn. 6) hemmed them in between them and the other French bands (bande) in their rear, who when face to face with the enemy ran away (voltorono le spalle), and falling on their own German infantry disordered them greatly. During this encounter, another squadron of Burgundian cavalry coming up, after having almost dispersed the first 300 French horse who had pushed forward, mercilessly cut to pieces the whole of the said German infantry, 10,000 in number; and in the meanwhile, the Blacksmiths (Feraroli) crossing over to the left wing where the French infantry was, in like manner dispersed a great part of them. In short, the whole French army was routed, some 12,000 persons being killed, and with but very little loss to the enemy. The Constable was taken prisoner, having been wounded with an harquebuse shot in the loins, and with a spear-thrust in one of his thighs, having fought bravely. Amongst the killed and the prisoners are several other lords, and amongst the latter are the Duke of Montpensier of the blood royal, and the Marshal St. Andrá, as likewise the Lord Ludovico Gonzaga the Duke of Mantua's brother, who being near the Constable, although urged to take flight, refused nevertheless to do so, but his horse being shot under him with three harquebuse shots, he was captured, together with the Duke de Longueville of the house of Orleans, he likewise being of the blood royal, and a youth 16 years old.
After the rout the enemy took the artillery and the French quarters, where they slept that night, sacking all they found there, which was of great value, together with baggage of the greatest importance, as they also did by what was with the army, which both on the march and in action was the cause of very great detriment and hindrance (con le bagaglie di maggior importantia, si come fecero anche di quelle, che erano con l'essereito, le quali sì nel marchiare come nel combattere diedero grandissimo danno et impedimento).
The enemy took all the colours, in number 56, except one alone, which remained in the hands of the French.
One of the Constable's sons, 16 years old, fell with his horse into a ditch, and broke his neck; and another of his sons a little older shares his captivity.
The Duke de Nevers with a number of great personages has retreated to La Fere, a very strong place, where he is reassembling the remains of the army, but while the remaining infantry force is very small, the cavalry suffered but little; and it is said that if all those who ran away and disbanded return, another corps will be formed of at least 6,000 horse.
Paris, 13th August 1557.
Aug. 14. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives. (2nd letter.) 991. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
The ambassador from England is awaiting the Pope's summons to receive his reply to the Queen's demand about restoring the legation to Cardinal Pole, and says that should he hear nothing further he will let be thus (scorrerà cosà) till Monday or Tuesday, and then urge the matter. I am assured on good authority that Sir Edward Carne is commissioned, should the Pope say that Cardinal Pole is suspected of heresy, to reply, that should this be the case her Majesty will be his greatest enemy, and that therefore the Pope should send to draw up his process (a formare il processo) in England, as customary against English subjects, and as was done lately respecting the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Cardinal's predecessor, who was tried (processato) in England, condemned at Rome, and burned in London (sic) (fn. 7); and that should Cardinal Pole be found guilty she will not fail to let the law take its course (non si mancherà d'esseguir la giustitia); but that in the meanwhile she wills to hold him for a man of worth, Catholic, and holy, having before her eyes by what good examples and by what sound doctrine he has brought back England to the true worship of God, acts which could not have been accomplished by any other hands than his. Should Carne be told that this process will be drawn up at Rome, he is to reply that the Cardinal, besides being an Englishman, and that therefore he must be tried in his own country, is also Archbishop of Canterbury, who, in virtue of many apostolic decrees (per molte constitutioni apostolice) cannot go out of the realm. In conclusion, should the Pope absolutely deny the demand made by the Queen, who considers it a fair one, her ambassador is to leave Rome, making first of all a protest, in public if possible, if not, by going from house to house of all the cardinals, and informing them that the Queen and Council, and the whole kingdom of England, will never swerve from their devotion, reverence, and obedience to the See Apostolic, and to his Holiness' successors, although for a certain period (per qualche tempo) they were compelled not to obey Pope Paul IV.; which having been told me as a very great secret, I beseech your Serenity to keep it accordingly.
I also hear that on Thursday in the congregation of the Inquisition this affair was debated, the Pope having the Queen's letter read, adding that he would not then ask any one's opinion, but that they were to consider the matter until another congregation. Cardinal S. Giacomo [of Compostella, Juan Alvarez de Toledo], who was present, and he is believed to have gone precisely for this purpose, many days and months having elapsed since he was in the Vatican, said it seemed to him that they ought not to be too long thinking about it, as it was just and necessary to gratify the Queen in order not to lose England. The Pope cut short his speech, telling him angrily to hold his tongue, as the affair was a most important one, and worthy of much consideration.
I know that certain cardinals who desire the welfare of the See Apostolic have requested Sir Edward Carne to use address, and to avail himself of time, as possibly the present state of things will take some other form, causing this demand of his likewise to take a better course; besides which, in certain cases it is well to go always temporizing (andar sempre scorrendo), by so much the more when one has to do with an old man, 81 years of age.
Rome, 14th August 1557.
Aug. 14. MS. St. Mark's Library. Cod. XXIV., Cl. X., p. 186 verso, 187 recto. 992. Cardinal Pole to King Philip (al Re Cattolico).
The great and fortunate success (fn. 8) which it has pleased our Lord God now to grant your Majesty at the commencement of this your first undertaking, gives you much and great opportunity for rendering ample testimony to the whole world of the great piety with which His Divine goodness has endowed you, by acknowledging everything from thence (da quella), as I have heard you do—on which I heartily congratulate you—and that you, in fact, show yourself more than ever prompt and disposed towards peace and the public quiet by continuing to order performance of the commission given by you previously to make peace with his Holiness; and by doing so, as I hope your Majesty will do, you will preserve alike and increase the grace and favour of God and man, and thus obtain true and perpetual commendation. In virtue of my especial duty and affection for your Majesty it has not seemed fit to me to fail exhorting you as much as I can to this effect, praying our Lord God to direct all your counsels for the benefit and quiet of Christendom, and of His Divine service, and ever prosper you more and more, to which end the most Serene Queen immediately had public thanksgivings rendered to God for this happy event, in conformity with the hopes always entertained by her of the especial favour of God towards your Majesty, whose hands I humbly kiss. (fn. 9)
Richmond, 14th August 1557.
Aug. 14. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 993. Giacomo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Yesterday the most Christian Queen, to settle the business commenced by her during the King's absence with the citizens (con questi della città) to obtain the subsidy she had caused to be demanded, went in person to the Parliament House, accompanied by certain cardinals and a number of princes, and in very grave form of speech represented the present need, adding that although the most Christian King had incurred such vast expenditure during the past was yet nevertheless he had always had more regard for the cities than for any other state of this realm, of which fact he required no other evidence than their own consciences, reminding them of how little they had contributed hitherto; but as the need continued his Majesty did not consider it fitting any longer to burden the people, who for the ordinary expenditure were very heavily taxed, and yet more exorbitantly through the extra imposts; wherefore it was necessary for the cities, remembering so many benefits and favours received by them from his Majesty, to demonstrate to the whole world, in this the kingdom's extreme need, their fidelity and affection for their prince. Her Majesty spoke with such earnestness and eloquence that every one was moved; and she said, in conclusion, that the most Christian King required a vote of 300,000 francs for the payment of 25,000 infantry for two months, adding that she would then retire, to leave them free, as usual, to deliberate, which she did by withdrawing into a chamber; but it was immediately voted to comply with her Majesty's demand, and when she returned to her place they freely promised her to pay these 300,000 francs, and, to give the most Christian King greater assistance, 100 of their city burgesses (cento di loro borghesi della villa) offered to give immediately 3,000 francs each, so that his Majesty might promptly avail himself of this sum, which they with greater convenience would subsequently get back from the city; and they then respectfully prayed her Majesty to use good offices with the King in favour of their privileges. The Queen thanked them in so sweet a form of speech that she made well nigh the whole Parliament shed tears from emotion (che fece lachrimar per tenerezza quasi tutto il parlamento;) and she told them that, remembering this their demonstration towards her, she would always consider them her clients (che la gli haveria per racomondati), and that she promised them to appoint her son the Dauphin their solicitor and intercessor with the most Christian King. Thereupon the Parliament adjourned, greatly applauding her Majesty, and with such marks of extreme satisfaction as to defy exaggeration; and all over Paris nothing is talked of but the prudent and gracious mode adopted by her Majesty in this business, everybody declaring that had it been managed by any other person there would neither have been so much liberality (lorghezza) nor so much facility.
The determination of this city to give 300,000 francs will yield his Majesty about a million and a half of gold, it being customary that when Paris forms a resolve of this sort, she does so for herself and for all the other towns in the kingdom, each of them thus knowing her proportional quota. The same mode as adopted here for instantaneous payment will also be observed in every other place, so that his Majesty will have this sum in full very speedily. The Parliament also determined that this city is to pay the garrison required for its defence in case of need, and which will amount, they say, to 74,000 infantry.
By the express sent to M. de Termes, desiring him to return immediately, they also wrote to Marshal de Brissac to retire into the fortresses with such garrison of Frenchmen as he shall know to be necessary, and to send hither the combined Switzers and Italians, together with 250 men-at-arms and 500 light cavalry, and in lieu of the Italian foot soldiers to raise an equal amount of new ones; and in like manner, to renew the Switzers, his Majesty has sent to engage 6,000 others, with orders to make them pass into Piedmont in the stead of the aforesaid who will come hither. His Majesty has also sent a fresh order for the 5,000 Switzers raised originally for Italy to turn back and enter France in like manner, so that what with the Switzers and the aforesaid Italians, together with the 10,000 Germans whom they have already sent to raise, recruiting also the same number of Frenchmen, that the King purposes having an army corps of 50,000 foot and 8,000 horse, and he says publicly that he shall take the field in person, but so far as can be seen (although there is no lack of all diligence) he will have need of a month's time before these things can be accomplished. They have likewise written throughout the kingdom for all the captains who formerly had pay from his Majesty, and who from age or other circumstances retired to their homes, to come immediately to the court without any excuse; and in all things the King shows so much prudence and firmness of mind that he has quite confirmed all men in their opinion of his great ability. The news of the enemy's troops who were in the battle having sacked the French quarters has not been verified, but they were indeed well nigh all sacked by the French themselves, and especially the Constable's tents, in which were found about 18,000 “crowns of the King,” together with plate belonging to his Excellency of immense value. The Duke de Nevers, with the few troops he could get together, has retreated to Ham, abandoning La Fere, as he had doubts of being able to keep it, so all the neighbouring inhabitants have abandoned the territory, and the peasants themselves have destroyed the roads, so everything in those parts is in disorder, as also at Compiegne, from whence, after the King's departure, all the inhabitants took flight. M. d'Enghien, brother of the King of Navarre, was found dead on the field of battle, he being taken to La Fere, (fn. 10) and also M. de Lansac.
It is heard that the Constable's wounds will not be of much importance, and physicians (medici) have been sent to him from hence. His Excellency's son, who was reported killed, is a prisoner with him.
Although this town has very great need of defence, no other provision has been made hitherto, save that of fortifying certain parts where most necessary, but even that work proceeds very slowly.
Orders have been sent all over the neighbouring country to bring in grain and other necessaries for subsistence.
Paris, 14th August 1557.


  • 1. This letter from Rome, detailing the rout of Paliano in July 1557, forms a parallel to one from France by Navagero's colleague Soranzo, dated Paris, 13th August 1557, giving a minute account of the rout of St. Quentin; and the two together will suffice to close the contemporaneous narrative of the league contracted between Rome and France against Philip and Mary.
  • 2. Amongst other ciphered paragraphs in this interesting despatch, there is one purporting that Marshal Strozzi anticipated great difficulty in adjusting matters between Rome and France, where much evil was said of the Pope, and yet more of Cardinal Caraffa, whose nephew, Don Pietro, son of Marquis Montebello, whom he had left at the French Court in August 1556, was abandoned by everybody, having lodgings assigned him in villages instead of in the royal palaces, as when he first arrived there.
  • 3. Gaspar Coligny, Seigneur de Chastillon, Admiral of France. (See Foreign Calendar, “Mary,” Index.)
  • 4. François de Coligny. (See Foreign Calendar, Mary, Index.)
  • 5. From this it may be inferred that King Philip had moved from Brussels to Cambrai and went thence to St. Quentin, the day after the rout.
  • 6. The etymology of the term may be read in a ciphered despatch, written by the Venetian Ambassador, Marc' Antonio Damula, from Brussels, on the 3rd August 1554, thus, “The German cavalry armed with carbines are called Blacksmiths (Feraroli), because their surcoats, weapons, visors, gauntlets, and horses being all black, they resemble our blacksmiths.” The above-written paragraph, like the rest of Damula's correspondence, was deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini, in the year 1872.
  • 7. Archbishop Cranmer was burned at Oxford on the 21st March 1556. (See Froude, vol. 6, p. 429. Ed. London, 1860.)
  • 8. Philibert Duke of Savoy gained the battle of St. Quentin on the 10th August 1557, as written by the Ambassador Surian on the 13th.
  • 9. According to Machyn's Diary, p. 147, the news of the battle of St. Quentin arrived in London on the 14th August, and thanksgivings were ordered there on the morrow, but they had of course been offered up at Richmond on the day before.
  • 10. “Jean de Bourbon, due d'Anguien, frère du Prince de Condá, fut blessá à mort d'un coup de pistolet. Il fut pris, et conduit an camp ennemi, ou il expira en y arrivant.” (Père Daniel, vol. 9, p. 836. Ed. Paris 1755.)