Venice: August 1557, 16-31

Pages 1252-1270

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.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. All rights reserved.


August 1557, 16–31

Aug. 18. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 994. Giacomo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Duke de Nevers is still at Ham, and has got together some 5,000 horse and 3,000 foot, the greater part Germans who escaped after the rout of the army, which seems to have been less than was at first reported. His Excellency is now distributing the greater part of these troops, with such others as have recently been raised in this neighbourhood.
The army of the King of Spain continues besieging St. Quentin; they have raised a battery of 60 guns, with which they cannonaded the town briskly for two days, but made a very small breach, and the besieged defended themselves so well that the enemy, being unable to make any progress in that direction, purposed erecting a battery in another direction. The Admiral has informed the most Christian King that he is sure of being able to hold the town for a month, and that although he has not such an amount of troops as would be required for its entire security, yet those within, by their valour, will supply all deficiencies. In order to make the bread last longer he has sent away all useless mouths, thus gaining 20 days more. In the act of departure a woman gave information about a ditch full of grain, with the assistance of which they would have wherewithal to live for three months, most especially as they are well provided with everything else.
In addition to the other troops, a new corps of 400 men-at-arms is being raised, besides those for which they are recruiting to fill up the old companies, and the companies of the new corps have already been distributed; but although all diligence is used to hasten to the utmost the incorporation of this new army, it will not be completely embodied before the 20th of next month; and although his most Christian Majesty wishes for 50,000 infantry, he will not have more than 40,000, and 8,000 horse.
Several lords and gentlemen who were made prisoners have been released for very moderate ransoms, and they greatly commend the good treatment received by everybody, and the fair war (la buona guerra) waged throughout the country. Permission has been obtained to send as many as six servants for each of the chief prisoners; and the Lord Ludovic [Gonzaga] of Mantua (fn. 1) has been given to his uncle Don Ferrante; (fn. 2) the which Lord Ludovic has sent to tell the most Christian King that although many of those lords have strongly urged him to assume the red cross, yet, nevertheless, the white one is so deeply engraved in his heart that he will never change his determination.
The fear in this city is still very great, though less than a few days ago, and all hope is placed in the defence of St. Quentin, which, if lost, some riot is apprehended here on the part of this Parisian rabble (da questo popolazzo), of which they have greater dread than of the enemy themselves; and permission has been given to everybody to send out of the town their women, children, and goods (robbe), but all the heads of houses are commanded to remain, and should any of them be absent, they are to return within eight days under penalty of confiscation of their property; and as this city is divided into 16 districts (in 16 parti), a captain has been appointed for each of them with a considerable guard, to prevent such disturbances as might otherwise arise.
Since the first despatch to M. de Guise desiring him to come in person, orders have been sent for the same leave to be given to all the lords and gentlemen who shall choose to avail themselves of it, so they are all expected here; and Marshal Strozzi will remain as commander-in-chief of those troops, about which I hear it opined that they may very possibly be disbanded, his most Christian Majesty having almost entirely alienated his mind from the affairs of Italy, so that evil prognostics are also made about the [French?] fortresses in Tuscany.
The plot at Lyons, to which I alluded heretofore, according to letters from the French Ambassador at Rome, was devised by Don Ferrante when he passed through Lyons on his way to Flanders.
M. de Lansac, who was said to have been killed in the battle of St. Quentin, has been found alive amongst the prisoners.
Paris, 18th August 1557.
[Italian, partly in cipher; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
Aug. 21. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 995. Giacomo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Yesterday I dined with the Cardinal of Lorraine, (fn. 3) who said to me, “The King was gratified by your condolence. This affair was brought about not by men (da gli huomeni), but by the will of God. But we have to thank His Divine Majesty for that it was no worse, as it would have been had the enemy known what they might have done with their forces; at present, however, we hope they will no longer do us any harm. In a few days M. de Termes will be here, and shortly afterwards M. de Guise, and those other lords who are with him; and the Germans and the Switzers will likewise be here very soon, so our affairs will no longer be in danger. But this alone pains his Majesty, that the Pope may remain in some trouble, although Marshal Strozzi will stay with him, together with the troops late under the command of M. de Guise; but the King, nevertheless, will give neither trouble nor inconvenience to any of his friends or confederates about defence or assistance for his Majesty, who has, however, desired his ambassador with the Signory to request them (ch' el facci officio) to mediate for the adjustment of the disputes between his Holiness and the King of Spain, and to do their utmost for the cessation of war in Italy, and the King is certain that his Serenity will not fail to do so.” I answered in suitable terms, repeating my condolence with the King, and I then said that with regard to the King's wish for your Serenity to mediate about an agreement with the Pope, I believed that so far from slackening your efforts you would make them the more willingly.
The conversation then ended, because dinner was announced to the Cardinal, after which, being introduced to the King, I addressed him in the like form, and he returned great thanks to your Serenity, who might rely on his reciprocating most amply both by affection and good will. Then as to what had taken place, his Majesty said, “Such was doubtless the will of God, so there is no occasion to discuss it farther. I have not failed to make immediately such provision as was possible. I sent for M. de Guise and those other lords who are with him; and he will have had the unexpected good luck to find 12 galleys at Civita Vecchia, which will, I hope, bring him quickly, as I despatched orders for him to come on board, without which convenience, having to come by way of Switzerland, he would have gone to pass a day at Venice. He will bring with him six ensigns (insegne) of Frenchmen, the others remaining in the Pope's service under Marshal Strozzi.” His Majesty added that he was very sorry for this new accident (nuoco accidente) of Paliano, (fn. 4) but that from what had been written to him the Marquis di Montebello had been the first to run away, which caused some confusion, but that the Lord Giulio Orsino, not choosing to do so, had been wounded and was made prisoner, and had behaved himself very well indeed.
The King then continuing the topic said, “M. de Termes likewise will very soon be here, and the Switzers will come from Piedmont, where the French and the Italians will remain until other fresh Switzers shall be sent thither, and in like manner those others who were raised for Italy will be here very soon; and concerning them my ambassador writes to me that as to-day, the 20th of the month, they were to have commenced their march in that direction, but Messier Scipion da Piovene will have arrived previously with counter-orders for them to come hitherwards, they being in all twelve thousand. We shall in like manner have six thousand Germans, part of whom are already on their way, and there will be a consider- able amount of Frenchmen, so that within a month I hope we shall be ready; and I have already sent troops for all the citadels (fortezze), and given orders for all the victuals to be removed into the walled towns (forti), and such as cannot be removed to be burned, together with the mills, and every other convenience of which the enemy might avail themselves, as it is better for us to ravage our territory, rather than that they should do so. As for money, I hope we shall have no lack of that, as all the people make so great a demonstration towards me that I could not have wished for greater, and besides my own subjects, the merchants of Lyons, competing one with the other, lend me 600,000 crowns, 100,000 of which are without interest, and the remainder on the usual terms; and to say the truth I am surprised to see so much liberality on such an occasion, nor are the German merchants less ready than the others.”
The King having then ceased speaking, I asked him in what condition St. Quentin was, and what the enemy were doing. His Majesty said, “I have autograph letters from the Admiral [Gaspar Coligny], dated the 18th, giving me assurance of his holding the town (be terra), and praying me to turn my thoughts to every other quarter, and to be under no apprehension about that citadel (quella piazza), and in fact he is behaving very well, and as you know, he is a very good soldier. The enemy battered the place with 16 guns, and made a breach of some 130 yards, but merely in the wall, as the earthen platform has not fallen, and the Admiral has raised such strong bulwarks (ripari tanto gagliardi), that better could not be desired. They mined twice, but the mine failed; we shall wait and see what they will do.”
I inquired for how long a time the fortress (fortezza) was victualled. His most Christian Majesty said, “To tell you the truth, for six weeks at least, although they write to me that the provisions will last for a longer period, but during this interval I hope to be in order (esser in ordine).” I asked if the army of the King of Spain was all united, or whether they had sent troops in other directions. He replied, “They have sent 12 pieces of artillery, 4,000 infantry, and 2,000 horse to the Catelet, which is a very small fortress but well garrisoned. I hope they will not take it so easily as I have had a valiant commander placed in it, and a good number of soldiers, and they have victuals for a very long while, but even should they take it, it would matter little.”
I asked his Majesty if he had any news of the Constable, and he said, “The Constable was struck with that harquebuse ball, which made a severe wound, and there was much suppuration and his fever ceased, and I believe they are taking him to Ghent. The Marshal de St. Andrá and the Rhinegrave are prisoners to the Duke of Brunswick, who intended to have them taken into Germany, and they are as well treated as possible, and I hope we shall soon have them back, both because the Germans covet nothing but money, as also because the said Duke is so much the Count Rhinegrave's friend, that were they brothers they could not be on more loving terms with each other. The Duke de Montpensier, who is badly wounded, is in the hands of Count Mansfelt, (fn. 5) but he treats him admirably; and the Viscount of Turenne [François de la Tour], the Constable's son-in-law, is dead.” His Majesty then added, “The Prince of Mantua will be released by means of Don Ferrante, and in truth I am so well satisfied with that youth that I could not be more so, for had he chosen to make his escape he might have effected it, but he would never abandon the Constable; and subsequently, being with the enemy, they did their utmost to make him change sides, having frequently appended the red cross to his neck; and he always said, 'I am your prisoner, you can do what you please, but as for me I neither can nor will change my mind;' and rest assured that he will become a most thorough gentleman. His Governor chose to have leave to go to him, and departs to-day, and according to report they will send him into Italy. Many of the prisoners have returned, greatly commending the good treatment received by them, and no few of the number, from not being known, were released for a small ransom; and all bring word that the army suffers from scarcity of victuals, that the bread is very black, and that for the most part they drink water.” The King having thus closed the conversation, I, after returning thanks in your Serenity's name, took leave.
In the next place I visited the most Christian Queen, and in performance of such office as becoming the nature of the times, I told her Majesty that I had heard with very great satisfaction that the whole of this city commended the address and mode of proceeding adopted by her in Parliament, thus obtaining vast accommodation for the King and infinite praise for herself. I then commenced discussing the events of the war, and after telling me many particulars which it would be superfluous to represent to your Serenity, her Majesty said to me, “Before this event happened, the King was informed that during these two or three months the King of England intended to make an extraordinary effort (un grosso sforzo) to take some of the fortresses in this kingdom, so as subsequently, when negotiating some agreement, to be upon a par with the most Christian King, with regard both to giving back and to retaining; and although he has had this so great an opportunity, he nevertheless has not chosen to advance, seeming rather to persevere in his first opinion, though I hope that he will not obtain what he desires, for St. Quentin will hold out; but the Almighty, who perceived that the most Christian King, whose great prosperity had so elevated him that his enemy the King Catholic was now terrified, chose to make Himself known, and for my own part, I believe that He wills these two Kings to be equal, for although on us He has inflicted this trouble, yet did he blind the enemy to what they might do.”
On my remarking to her Majesty that now there was no longer anything to fear, so many days having elapsed without the enemy's advancing, so that this kingdom was already secure; the Queen replied, “By delaying so long, they have assuredly deprived themselves of the opportunity for striking some great blow, but let us not tempt God by saying we are safe, for we should thus fall into the error incurred by the Constable through too much self-reliance”; and she added, “God by these means will perhaps point out the way to peace, which otherwise seemed impossible. As for myself, I desire it greatly, but first of all the King must take the field in person, and expel the enemy from our confines; after which, should they wish to negotiate an agreement, I, for my part, would willingly listen to it, but previously his most Christian Majesty chooses to be armed.” I asked if the King would take the field, and what the amount of his army would be. She replied, “To tell you the truth there will be about 36,000 infantry and 8,000 horse, and the King says he will decidedly (al tutto) take the field in person, and moreover regrets not having done so before, as things would not have come to this pass.” And here she said, “Oh! it has indeed been a great thing for usto have been routed by three thousand cavalry; and that the Constable, who had not his equal in all Christendom, should have committed such a mistake (sia incorso in un tal caso); and I give you my word that when he departed, he went with the determination not to fight (di non combatter), and when he took leave of me, I said to him, 'Compeer (compare), for the love of God beware, and consider what would ensue were any misfortune to occur;' and he answered me, 'Madame, I know what it is requisite to do; he not anxious about this, for I know how to regulate myself.'”
Her Majesty also told me what affection she bore your Serenity, and how she longed for an opportunity to do something agreeable to you, to which having replied becomingly I took leave, and went as usual to Madame Marguerite. Many preparations continue being made in this city for its defence, they are working greatly in order to fortify it, making very wide ditches and other works, so that should the enemy come they may be prevented from encamping; and they are registering 12,000 foot soldiers from amongst the artisans, to be distributed under the 16 chiefs already elected, as written by me, the Prince of La Roche-sur-Yon, (fn. 6) of the blood royal, having been commissioned to make all these arrangements (tutte queste provisioni).
Yesterday evening the Bishop of Acqs [Francois de Noailles], who has been appointed by his most Christian Majesty ambassador resident with your Serenity, came to visit me, and took leave to depart this day. I have in fact known him both in England and here to be very respectful and well affected.
To-day the most Christian King went out to hunt for the first time since the rout.
Paris, 21st August 1557.
[Italian, partly in cipher; the portions in italics deciph3ered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
Aug. 21. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives. 996. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
On Thursday, in the congregation of the Inquisition, it having been deferred until then to discuss the affair of the legation of Cardinal Pole, nothing more was said, owing to the absence of the Cardinals Carpi, S. Giacomo, Puteo, and Pisa; the Pope saying that as the matter was of great importance he should delay until those cardinals were present; and Sir Edward Carne likewise, being more than ever in favour of delay, has not made any fresh demand of the Pope. The Inquisition has arrested the secretary of Cardinal Fano [Friar Pietro Bertano, made Cardinal by Pope Julius III.]; it is suspected that this arrest may have deeper roots, bearing in mind the example of Cardinal Morone, and Cardinal Gislerio [Supreme Inquisitor] being Cardinal Fano's enemy. The Inquisition has in like manner seized a person in the service of Cardinal de Bellai, and who is said to have been formerly a friar.
Rome, 21st August 1557.
Aug. 22. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 997. Michiel Surian, Venetian Ambassador with King Philip, to the Doge and Senate.
The battering of St. Quentin commenced on the 14th with 29 cannons, 25 being placed towards the east and north, which is the loftiest site, and where the King is quartered, at not more than 40 paces from the wall, and there are four others in the suburb. On the following days they battered sometimes with eight guns and sometimes with four, so that during this interval they have levelled to the ground a great part of the wall in that direction, and some large towers, built in the ancient fashion, which served as a slight flankwork (che flancheggiacan pur qualche poco), and yesterday they were to batter in another direction. Those within repair the walks brisky, and go raising them, nor have they any lack of earth or of space (nè piazza), and not only the men, but even the women, work; nor as yet are they heard to show any sign of fear. This side is of opinion that the place will be taken, but that they will have much to do, and that the surest way will be by sap, so for this purpose they have made some covered ways, to enter into the moat and go under the wall.
Within they have 18 “banners” (bandieri), six which were there at first, six that entered afterwards, and six raised by the town, amounting to about 3,000 men, all very choice troops.
The site outside St. Quentin consists entirely of little valleys and dikes (è tutto vallette et argini), so although his Majesty's army is compelled to encamp disunited, it has at least this convenience, that some of those dikes serve as a trench, and discover part of the town, and most especially on the side where the suburb is, which was already occupied.
King Philip, seeing that the French in le Catelet, a small fortress between Cambrai and St. Quentin, did much mischief, and, by scouring the road, greatly impeded the passage of provisions and whatever was required for the army, sent thither nine pieces of artillery and a considerable force to batter it, but two days ago he had the artillery removed to St. Quentin, leaving only the soldiers to prevent the French from making sallies.
The Count d'Egmont, with his light horse and with the English troops, has entered France and ravages everywhere on his march (et ca rainando per tutto dove passa). The Constable has been sent for safe custody to the fortress of Hant (sic); the Marshal of St. Andrá, and the Rhinegrave, and the brother of the Duke of Mantua have been consigned to Don Ferrante, who is security for their ransom, which is said to amount to 40,000 crowns. The Constable was brought to the King, and his Majesty advanced some steps outside of the tent to meet him, and the Constable wishing to kiss his hand, the King would not allow it but embraced him, and they remained awhile alone together, conversing, and he was much honoured by all the chief personages.
Brussels, 22nd August 1557.
Aug. 22. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives. (2nd letter.) 998. From the Same to the Same.
With the opportunity afforded by the rout of the French, Cardinal Pole wrote to the King exhorting his Majesty to continue demonstrating by facts his goodwill towards the public quiet by enforcing the commission given by him heretofore to make peace with his Holiness, from which the King might not only hope for the grace and favour of God, but moreover for much praise from man likewise, and confirmation of the good opinion he has obtained for himself. Cardinal Pole gave me notice of this office, urging me also to do the like, but not having had any letters from your Serenity for a very long time I have no occasion to go to the army, nor do I see what additional good any office of mine could effect, unless I receive some fresh order, most especially as I am informed that his Majesty's confessor, (fn. 7) through whose hands this negotiation for the peace passed, has said that his Majesty repealed the resolve formed to send Vargas to Rome, because his affairs proceeding so prosperously it is not fair that he should make peace on such terms as he would have made it previously.
Brussels, 22nd August 1557.
[Italian, partly in cipher; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
Aug. 24. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives. 999. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
The Veronese Ormanetto has arrived here, being sent by Cardinal Pole; he went to Cardinal Caraffa yesterday, but has not yet been to the Pope. When he obtains audience of his Holiness I will endeavour to learn what particulars he brings, and the Pope's replies, to communicate them to your Serenity.
Yesterday at 3 p.m. a courier from Venice brought letters for Cardinal Pacheco, from the ambassador Vargas, announcing the rout of the Constable in France. At a late hour Cardinal Pacheco narrated the event to his Holiness, exhorting him to make terms with the Duke of Alva whilst it was in his power; to which he says the Pope replied, “God be praised, as we shall make the peace; we were awaiting one of these opportunities to conclude it, and King Philip, by making it upon this his victory, will be so much the more evince his obedience and goodwill towards this Holy See.”
Then last night a courier arrived from the Duke de Guise, and this morning a second one, with letters purporting that D. Scipio di Piovene, a gentleman in the service of the Cardinal of Ferrara, had come to his Excellency at Spoleto from France, to recall him for the assistance of the kingdom, the Duke sending hither a letter addressed to him by the Duke of Ferrara, thus, “You will have heard of the Constable's horrible disaster (horrendo caso) after victualling St. Quentin; I am going to Venice to recommend the realm of France to the Signory. The Pope must be induced to make terms, and assist the King according to his means; such I am told are the contents of the letter.”
Marshal Strozzi conferred with Cardinal Caraffa and the Duke of Paliano all last night till 4 a.m. this morning. He says that for centuries the world has not witnessed greater confusion than at present, and that Constable Montmorency was a true prophet when he said, “Other people (altri) by their follies have turned our heads likewise, causing such disorder, that may God grant that this kingdom derive advantage from it.” The Marshal added that here there is nothing to do but to persuade the Pope to make the agreement on such terms as he can obtain, the Duke de Guise being compelled to depart speedily for France.
Rome, 24th August 1537.
Aug. 25. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 1000. Giacomo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The siege of St. Quentin continues as usual, and although the army of the King of Spain has battered the town in seven different places, the only breach made was the destruction of the wall, the platform remaining quite firm in every direction; and, in addition to this, the Admiral has made a new fosse within, and a very strong trench, having also lowered the summit of a belfry, and by discharging some pieces of artillery from it damages the enemy greatly, so that in one direction they have been compelled to retire a little. The Admiral has also sent away another company of women and children, and has found another ditch of wheat (un' altra fossa de formenti), with which he will be provisioned for two months and a half. By order of the Duke de Nevers 300 harquebusiers went out of Guise escorted by 300 men-at-arms under the command of the Count de Sancerre, (fn. 8) and having forded the lake near St. Quentin, the water being so high that it reached the men's beards, and holding their harquebuses in the air, 280 of them got safe into the town by night through the same place as that whereby the Constable made the other infantry enter with the boats, so it is considered certain that the town is no longer in want of anything.
Some 4,000 horse and 6,000 foot in the service of the King of Spain, having left the army, came, as far as Noyon for the purpose of getting victuals, to convey which they took with them a number of carts (carrete), but having found the whole country laid waste, and without victuals or any other convenience, they went back to the army, where for the future (according to report) they will suffer less from lack of provisions than they have done hitherto, both because the crops in Flanders have already been housed, as also because the troops sent to besiege Catelet have secured that road, whereby the greater part of the victuals was conveyed, as before the approach of the said troops constant forays were made from Catelet, very great loss being incurred by those on their way to the army, and besides victuals and ammunition plundered by the foragers, they cut to pieces an escort that was taking two carts to the army, with about 20,000 crowns in reals (scudi de reali), which remained in their hands.
By accounts received from the prisoners it is heard that in the army they talk of continuing the siege of St. Quentin, with the hope that in a fortnight, or rather more, they may get it, in the belief that the besieged have not victuals for a longer period; and on the accomplishment of that undertaking it is said that they purpose attempting the capture of Peronne, another important fortress; and that after routing the Constable they did not advance in this direction, both because their whole heart is set on getting possession of those citadels, and on wintering there, as also because they believed the military force in Paris to be greater than they would have found it.
Here they continue providing most actively, and besides the 6,000 infantry raised and sent for the defence of several places, as written by me, the shopkeepers of all the trades, together with such of their servants (servitari) as are best able to carry arms, have been commanded, each trade, to raise a military company, with which they are to be reviewed, and troops of this sort are seen in great number, but they are not very well armed, and it is said that in three or four days there will be a general muster. Should the King have need of them in the field the town offers him a part of them, the rest serving for the defence of the city, and for this purpose 20 great cannons have been sent from Amiens.
The Constable being governor of Languedoc, a post of much importance, the King has given its administration to the Cardinal of Lorraine during his Excellency's absence; and that of the Lyonnois and Bourbonnois, held by Marshal St. Andrá [Jacques d'Albon], has not been conferred on anyone, his release being hoped for very soon, it being already in course of negotiation with the Duke of Brunswick, but the like is not expected to take place so easily with regard to the Constable.
Paris, 25th August 1557.
Aug. 27. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 1001. Giacomo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The besiegers at St. Quentin, with their pioneers and batteries, made such a breach that they thought at length they might give the assault, having simultaneously digged some mines underneath the platform, with the intention of exploding them at the moment of the assault when the defenders would be on it. This scheme having been communicated to the Duke de Nevers by his spies in the enemy's army, and the Duke imparting it to the Admiral, the latter, when the assault was made, instead of allowing his troops to show themselves on the platform, made them remain on the trench, and to prevent the enemy from mounting the breach, he placed a good number of harquebusiers in the casemates, and other artillery on the flanks fronting the fosse, and when, on St. Bartholomew's day [24th August] the enemy gave the assault in several quarters, according to their project, and not seeing anyone appear for the defence, they commenced mounting the breach; but as the harquebusiers in the casemates and the artillerymen on the flanks did their duty, a constant fire being also kept up by the town, the defence was such that after six hours toil the besiegers were compelled to retire with the loss of about 1,000 men, and on their retreat the garrison sallied forth and killed a few others who were more slow to escape. This news was brought to the King yesterday, and has confirmed and increased the hopes of his Majesty and of everybody else, that the town will be kept; and although it is heard that they are again about to make another more formidable assault, it is nevertheless hoped that through the heart taken by the besieged owing to this feat they will maintain it manfully. The Duke de Nevers continues at Laon, and has about 10,000 infantry and 6,000 horse, besides another 6,000 foot soldiers, who have been distributed in several fortresses; and it having been ascertained that Noyon could not be kept, it has been abandoned, both by the soldiery and by the town's people themselves, part of whom have retired to Compiegne, and part to other places more in the interior.
Here in Paris the trades-bands continue to muster, but the day for their general review is not yet fixed. The 300,000 francs voted by the Parisians is being diligently exacted, each individual who has means paying 30 francs at the least, or 120 francs at the utmost, those who are unable to pay either of the aforesaid sums being exempted, but as many persons have exceeded the contribution demanded of them, it is believed that the sum will be much greater than what was promised; and in order that the clergy likewise may bear their share of the burden the King has imposed on them a new tenth, in addition to the other four disbursed in ordinary.
The Commander of the Fleet has been ordered to go with 10 galleys to meet the Duke de Guise, who is said to be ill. A few days ago letters from the Bishop of Lodève announced the death of Sultan Soliman. (fn. 9)
Paris, 27th August 1557.
Aug. 28. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives. (1st letter.) 1002. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
On the day I wrote my last the Duke of Paliano and Marshal Strozzi departed on their way to the Duke de Guise [at Terni?]. The Florentine Ambassador at the Pope's request is gone to his Duke, the Duke of Alva with the greater part of the army being at “La Colonna,” a castle 14 miles from Rome, where he told the Secretary of the Cardinal Camerlengo, that although hitherto he has had nothing but words from the Pope, to whom he has so often declared his will, which was said to be that of his Holiness likewise, he will nevertheless not fail to make peace, provided he content himself with what is fair and reasonable, in which case the Duke of Alva will show that he is authorized to conclude, although it is proclaimed here that he has no such power. This message was delivered to Cardinal Caraffa by the Cardinal Camerlengo, who receiving no answer, and considering the urgency of the matter, is surprised at their leaving the short road of the Duke of Alva, who could settle it in two hours, and that they should take the long one of the Duke of Florence, who at any rate must communicate everything to him in whose hands are both arms and the towns of the Church.
Ormanetto, who was sent hither as commissioner by Cardinal Pole, came to visit me yesterday, and said he had not yet spoken with the Pope, though he saw Cardinal Caraffa, from whom he received a courteous reply, expressing great wish to serve his most illustrious Cardinal Pole; nor did Ormanetto make any other demonstration to him than that of his master's reverence and obedience towards this Holy See, as due from a servant to his lord, and from a son to his father, and that owing to the importance of the matter he is compelled to let his Holiness know the state in which the kingdom of England finds itself, and the disorders which might ensue from his removing himself thence at present.
Rome, 28th August 1557.
Aug. 28. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives. (2nd letter.) 1003. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
To-day, whilst waiting for the Pope in the audience hall, together with Sir Edward Carne, the Duke of Paliano and Marshal Strozzi joined us in their boots, and whilst the Duká conversed with the English ambassador, I had a long conference with the Marshal, who told me in secret that they had found the Duke do Guise at Terni, and accompanied him to Narni; that he, M. de Guise, cannot do otherwise than return to France, being thus ordered by the King, and that had he not received this command it would have been his office and duty in this the kingdom's need not to abandon it. He is coming leisurely to Rome in a litter, where he will perhaps remain some days to give greater favour to the affairs of his Holiness, who, finding himself without money, without victuals, and without troops, will be compelled to accept such terms of peace as the Imperialists shall choose to give him. This, M. de Guise has written to his Holiness, and will tell it him freely. The Duke of Paliano and Marshal Strozzi, being then sent for by the Pope, when their colloquy ended he came into the audience chamber, and having called the English ambassador to a window against which he was leaning, I heard Sir Edward Carne ask him for the reply to the Queen's demand about Cardinal Pole's legation; to which the Pope replied that his very important affairs and the present events had kept him so occupied that he was unable to despatch this matter in the two last congregations, which, moreover, were not attended by many cardinals whom he wished to consult, that he might form a better resolve to the honour of God, and for the salvation of England, for whose welfare he was as desirous as of that of the See Apostolic. That her Majesty should pardon him this delay (che li perdonasse di questa dilatione), and lay the blame of it, for the most part, on the ministers of King Philip, who kept him in constant trouble, and without any cause, most especially after being sure of his Holiness' willingness to accept King Philip for his good son, as he wrote to him by the brief in common with the Queen (as sent by me to your Serenity), (fn. 10) in reply to which, and owing to the letters of the cardinals, informing him of his Holiness' goodwill, the King wrote to them, showing himself better disposed than ever, notwithstanding which the Duke of Alva now did worse than before; that previously he could say, “the Pope is my King's enemy, and fails to make terms with him,” and thus give a certain colour to the evil they were doing, but at present when deprived even of this excuse, they came under these walls the night before last to plunder and destroy this city, which is the seat of the Vicar of Christ, the domicile of the most blessed Peter and Paul, and the house of the omnipotent Lord God. That it was the ambassador's office to let the Queen know this, that she might induce the King her husband (che facesse ufficia co'l Re suo marito) to carry into effect what he says by word of mouth, about wishing to be the obedient son of the See Apostolic, and that now being victorious he should do so, more than ever, to demonstrate his acknowledgment to God for the good received from Him, as by doing otherwise His Majesty might turn His face from him, and make him lose in like manner as He has made him conquer. That he would show him a letter written lately by the Duke of Alva to the Cardinal “Camerlengo,” that he might know better the arrogance of this Spaniard and his determination to do him every possible injury (ogni male), and so he read him a letter about which I write hereunder. Carne rejoined that he would not omit to write what the Pope commanded him, and on his alluding again to the legation, his Holiness said that he would perhaps despatch it at the next “congregation.”
The ambassador then requested the Pope to be pleased to give audience to Ormanetto, who was sent by Cardinal Pole; to which his Holiness replied that he would do so willingly, and give orders to the Cardinal of Naples [Alfonso Caraffa] to have Ormanetto in- troduced to him. With this the Pope dismissed Carne, and called me to audience.
In reply to my congratulations on his good health he thanked me, and said that by the grace of God he was well, adding, “We have little to tell you, as you know all that has taken place, and the impiety of those Imperialists (di costoro), who have been even at these gates, from which the most illustrious Signory will be able to comprehend that what we have so often told you is perfectly true, that there is nothing good in them but words. When in the Serenity's name you announced to us King Philip's goodwill to make terms, we indeed told you that his Sublimity should not pledge his word for a thing about which he might remain duped; do you now see whether he has been deceived? We are sure that the Signory would not have written what they wrote, had they not believed in the existence of goodwill on the part of Philip, but we know not how these writings of the King's about his goodwill agree with his servants doing the worst they can. And that you may know what the Duke of Alva's will is, and what may be hoped from it, we will show you (leaving with you also its copy) a letter written by him lately to the Cardinal Camerlengo,' who is mediating for the peace.” He then read it to me, after which he gave it to me to send to your Serenity, as I do, and it is the one which he read first to the English ambassador. He gave me besides the enclosed printed copy of the bull made by him for the jubilee, telling me not to mind its being neither signed nor sealed, as receiving it at his hands was more than if it had been authenticated by a thousand prelates, (fn. 11) adding that he conceded the same indulgence throughout your territory, and that you were to have it proclaimed as usual, and to pray the Lord God for the peace and quiet of Christendom.
Having thanked him for this, when I was about to take leave, he said to me, “Magnifico Ambassador, there having occurred what has taken place in France, it would seem to us to wrong the love we bear the Signory, and to fail in our office and duty, were we not to remind you to write that as the Lord God has made you free, you should open your eyes to remain so, and not be the slave of the French nor the Spaniards; and that should you allow this State of the Church which is in peril to be occupied, you will see, besides getting no honour, that you will subsequently do penance for it, as you will then be compelled to follow us, and put your neck under the yoke likewise.” I replied that according to my duty I would write to your Serenity what he had told me, and I then took leave.
Rome, 28th August 1557.
Aug. 28. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 1004. Michiel Surian, Venetian Ambassador with King Philip, to the Doge and Senate.
The sole object of this letter is to give the news of the capture of St. Quentin by storm, which took place yesterday at the vesper hour, and the advice arrived this night. The Admiral was taken prisoner, nor does it seem that this side has suffered much loss, but I will write the particulars in my next despatch.
Advices have been received from England that the English troops on the borders of Scotland, under the command of Lord Percy, lately created Earl of Northumberland, (fn. 12) have routed the Scots and their commander the Bastard of Scotland; they went into the interior, taking and burning several towns, and making very great booty of men and cattle; so that in every quarter the affairs of the French, which a short time ago caused so much apprehension, are on the decline, and King Philip's successes increase the repute and confidence of his subjects.
Brussels, 28th August 1557.
Aug. 30. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 1005. Giacomo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
I wrote to your Serenity yesterday, announcing the capture of St. Quentin, and now send the duplicate of my letter. (fn. 13) Besides confirmation of my last letter the advices now received add that there being a dispute about pillage between the Spaniards and the Germans, some deaths took place on both sides, and the town being fired, and great part of it in flames, the Duke of Savoy sent a great number of pioneers to cleave (de tagliare) the burning houses, by which remedy such part of St. Quentin as remains standing was saved. Immense plunder was made, both because the town's people were very rich, and also as owing to the present alarm the majority of the principal and wealthiest gentry had taken refuge there, with their women, children, and effects. The Admiral (as written by me), being slightly wounded, was taken prisoner, and is so commended here universally that greater praise could not be expected by the most honourable commander in the world.
The army of the King of England has not yet moved, nor has it been discovered what resolve it will form, but to say the truth the general opinion is that King Philip's forces are at liberty to do what they please, as they will find no obstacle in any quarter capable of offering much impediment to their victorious course; and should they choose to march towards this city they could come by the straight road without finding any fortress to detain them for long, though they might find a scarcity of provisions, all of which have been withdrawn into the interior, the territory as far as Noyon being deserted. Should they on the contrary choose to turn towards Guise (as believed) rather than elsewhere, they will find that fortress very well provided and garrisoned, though it is not so strong as would be required, and if taken it would be no less profitable a conquest than St. Quentin. Many persons are of opinion that before the army determines on any other grand expedition (altra impresa reale) it will choose to take Ham, la Fere, and le Catelet, all which places are near St. Quentin, and their capture would cause very great apprehension to Peronne, a most important fortress, and which is said to be very well guarded.
The majority of this city's inhabitants are in the utmost terror, and send out, most especially towards Orleans, a great quantity of effects and of women, besides which an immense number of people, especially foreigners, are departing; and the King sent to St. Denis to remove the jewels and other royal ornaments kept in the church there, and they have arrived here, and it is said that they will be sent towards Orleans. A report is also in circulation that his Majesty likewise, with the Court, on the first news of the enemy's advancing hitherwards, would also move in that direction.
This morning a very solemn procession was made, his Majesty and the whole Court, and we Ambassadors likewise accompanying it, the King having gone in person to remove the relics from the “Sainte Chapelle” to the Cathedral Church of “Notre Dame,” where the mass of the “Corpus Domini” was sung, all the ladies being clad in black sackeloth (burato negro) without any ornaments. Last night the King's guard in ordinary was much increased, all of them being in corslets, and to-morrow 400 archers will be here to reinforce the usual body-guard of his Majesty, whose countenance and language indicate such great grief as may credibly be attributed to so noble a mind as his, unaccustomed ever to have felt until now any calamity resembling this present one; nor does he abstain in private from saying that he now sees that those who ought to have executed his orders failed to do so, and that for the future he does not choose his affairs to be regulated in any other way than that with which it shall please God to inspire him. I have also to mention that the Cardinal of Lorraine is now sole prime minister, and many persons doubt his ability to bear so heavy a burden; in addition to which, these Parisians by abusive words, and by placards at the corners of the streets (sopra li cantoni) revile him incessantly as the author of this war, calling to mind that he was the person who went to Rome to conclude the League with the Pope, and that subsequently he and the whole of the Guise family performed every office for the prosecution of this war. The name of the Constable suffers in like manner for his not having chosen to hold in account the preparation made by the enemy, so that he neglected to victual and garrison the fortresses sufficiently; and that without pondering the state of this kingdom he has ruined the army and himself, together with so many other great personages, by choosing to place troops in St. Quentin, into which the enemy entered like a flood (a guazzo) without any impediment.
Paris, 30th August 1557.
[Italian, partly in cipher; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
Aug. 30. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives. 1006. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
I wrote in my last that on Saturday Marshal Strozzi had audience of the Pope in his boots, and he then told his Holiness of the order given by the most Christian King to M. de Guise to return to France with the greatest part of the army possible, as narrated to my secretary, by the person who heretofore communicated to him the Marshal's affairs; Strozzi adding that Rome would remain in bad plight (resterà in mal termine).
Strozzi then went to the Pope's nephews demonstrating to them the necessity for making peace, and that to bring his Holiness to that point he must be told that here he would neither have troops, money, victuals, nor ammunition, either for defence or attack; and that if they would not tell him this, he, Strozzi, would perform the office, and that lest the Pope impute the greater part of these disorders in the government to their most illustrious Lordships he would do his best to apologize for them. The nephews consented to the Marshal's performing this office, so yesterday he went to his Holiness and narrated to him the want of everything required for war, the necessary departure of the Duke de Guise with the prime (co'l nervo) of the army, thus leaving this state at the mercy of the Imperialists, for which there was no other remedy than peace; he proved to him that his nephews, who were present, had made every provision possible according to human prudence, which they having confirmed, the Pope, after remaining for a short time undetermined, then said, “If it does not please God that war be made, counsel how we are to make the peace.”
The Marshal then said, “Holy Father, the past events have shown me that the cause of this war was the suspicion had by the Imperialists about the kingdom of Naples, for the defence of which, and in order not to be anticipated, they commenced the war, so that if freed from this suspicion they have no longer just nor apparent title for continuing hostilities against your Holiness; so I should believe it to be well for you to let it be understood that you choose to make peace, and to be neutral, and the common father, that you will dismiss the French, that you will disarm and raze the fortresses on the Neapolitan frontiers, and that in return your Holiness requires the due obedience from King Philip, and that he should not interfere with your subjects. The important general matters being agreed to, all the remaining affairs will adjust themselves.
The Pope replied that he was content, and ordered Cardinal Caraffa to tell the CardinalCamerlengo” to send instantly to propose all these things to Duke of Alva.
My secretary on hearing this went to ascertain the truth of it from the Cardinal “Camerlengo,” who told him that last Saturday evening Cardinal Caraffa made him send back Placido to the Duke of Alva with an agreement to the effect that the places of the Church were to be restored, fortified as they are, that Paliano was to remain to the Duke, that neither King Philip nor his ministers were to interfere with his Holiness' subjects; which has served to irritate the Duke of Alva rather than not. The Duke sent him back last evening, saying that these demands were out of reason; and when Placido asked him of his own accord whether his Excellency would be content to make an agreement on the terms stipulated heretofore on the island, amongst which was one purporting that a trustee (fn. 14) (un confidente) was to be placed in Paliano until compensation were made to the Duke [of Paliano]—he replied, “I do not know; perhaps yes.” The Cardinal “Camerlengo” sent this reply to Cardinal Caraffa, who conferred with him last evening, remaining till midnight, discussing the articles one by one, and they agreed about everything except the matter of Paliano, which Cardinal Caraffa wished should remain to the Duke freely; the Cardinal “Camerlengo” replying, that this the Duke of Alva will not do, and that it is also doubtful whether he will now consent to a trustee's being placed there; and that if his Lordship do not come to fairer terms about Paliano, it seemed to him vain to send again to the Duke of Alva; adding that he thought no difficulty should be raised with regard to placing a trustee there, as on the island his Lordship consented to it.
Cardinal Caraffa rejoined, “It is true, but I was offered Sienna;” to which the Cardinal Camerlengo replied, that they could not complain of the Duke of Alva if the promise about Sienna was not performed, as they themselves would not listen to Don Francisco Pacheco, nor to others, and in lieu of making terms sent their army into the Neapolitan territory, so everything was altered. Finally Cardinal Caraffa said he would confer with his brothers and with the Pope, and announce their decision to him. The “Camerlengo” [Guido Ascanio Sforza] also said that the whole army, with the Duke of Alva in person, was at “la Colonna,” where Don Garcia had arrived, and that he was expecting the Count di Popolo with 3,000 Germans and 4,000 Italians who had remained at the Tronto, and that the artillery also was near at hand.
Rome, 30th August 1557.
Aug. 31. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives. 1007. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
I went this morning to Cardinal Caraffa, who confirmed the approach of the enemy to Rome, and said the Duke de Guise would be here this evening. In reply to my congratulations on what he did on this occasion for the defence of Rome, he embraced me, but avoided any allusion to the proposals sent to the Duke of Alva. I said nothing on that subject, knowing that last evening Placido went back to the Duke of Alva after the “Camerlengo” and Cardinal Vitelli had been for a long while with his Lordship.
To ascertain the last proposals taken by Placido to the Duke of Alva, I sent my secretary to the “Camerlengo,” who told him that Cardinal Caraffa sent for him yesterday afternoon, and after much debate told him to send Placido to the Duke of Alva to let him know that as to the restitution of the towns of the Church, either as they are, or dismantled, no difficulty will be made, and that for his matter they will refer themselves to the said “Camerlengo,” but that respecting Paliano they request him to have it to the Duke as it stands, for the honour of the Pope, and as a sort of satisfaction for the French; but should the Duke of Alva refuse this, let him make three or four proposals about Paliano, to which they will reply, and possibly one of them might be accepted.
The Duke de Guise arrived here this evening at 6 p.m., and went to lodge at Monte Cavallo in the house and vineyard (nella casa, e vigna) of the Cardinal of Ferrara.
Rome, 31st August 1557.
Aug. 31. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 1008. Giacomo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
On the night after the capture of St. Quentin, M. de Bourdillon went out of La Fère, and whilst the enemy were enjoying their victory, he and his cavalry attacked their tents, which had no guard, burning many of them and making much booty, and returned safe to his garrison.
The affray between the Spaniards and the Germans in St. Quentin was much more serious than at first represented, it being said that the Duke of Brunswick is greatly exasperated.
The Parisians continue decamping, regardless of the cost of conveyance, by land or water, of their families and effects, but they have offered the King 5,000 of their men armed at their own cost, one third cavalry and two thirds infantry, this force remaining in his service during his stay here, as likewise with the rest of the army, should he take the field, and their equipment still continues. They are also preparing quarters for the fresh troops who are expected in the neighbourhood of Paris, especially at Montmartre, where they are making trenches, and such other provision as necessary, his Majesty intending to muster here the whole body of the fresh levies expected from every quarter. The last raised Switzers were to arrive to-day at Chalon, where they will embark on the Marne. M. de Termes is also expected here in four days with M. de Damville the Constable's son; they are coming postwise, but M. de Termes being old and indisposed, their daily journey does not exceed five posts.
Paris, 31st August 1557.


  • 1. On the 14th August 1549, at the age of ten years, Lodovico Gonzaga, brother of Duke Francesco, went from Mantua to the court of France, and took possession of the estates bequeathed him by his grandmother, the Duchess of Alencon; viz. the towns and baronies of La Guerche and Pouance, and of Château Gontier, Senones? (Senoces), and of Bressoles. (See “Il Fioretto delle Croniche de Mantova,” p. 84.)
  • 2. Don Ferrante Gonzaga, the only man for whom the Emperor Charles the Fifth was ever known to have shed a tear, died in Germany on the 15th November 1557. (See Fioretto, &c., as above, p. 85.)
  • 3. This would be at the Hotel de Cluny, where the Cardinal of Lorraine (the uncle of Mary Queen of Scots, who I think at one time resided there, but I forget on what authority it was stated) had his gallery and chief valuables, as stated in a despatch from the Venetian Ambassador in France, date Tours, 20th April 1560.
  • 4. Viz. failure of the attempt to succour Paliano, of which see account in Navagero's Despatch from Rome, dated 31st July.
  • 5. Albert, Count of Mansfeldt. (See Foreign Calendar, Mary, Index.)
  • 6. Charles de Bourbon. (See Foreign Calendar, Mary, Index.)
  • 7. Francesco Bernardo de Fresneda. (See his Leter to Queen Mary, date 14 March 1558, Brussels, in Foreign Calendar “Mary” Entry, No. 734, p. 364.
  • 8. See Père Daniel, vol. 9, p. 480.
  • 9. A false report.
  • 10. See the Pope's brief to Philip and Mary in Navagero's despatch dated 6th July 1557.
  • 11. The Duke of Alva's letter and the bull do not exist in the Navagero Letter Book.
  • 12. Sir Thomas Percy, knight, created Earl of Northumberland on the 30th April 1557. (See Collins, vol. 2, p. 315. Ed. London 1812.)
  • 13. Neither the original nor the duplicate can be found in the Venetian Archives. St. Quentin was stormed and taken on the 27th of August 1557. (See Histoire de France par le Père G. Daniel, de la Compagnie de Jesus; vol. 9, p. 838. Ed Paris 1755.).
  • 14. As will be seen in subsequent despatches, dated Rome, 18th September 1557, and 13th March 1558, this “trustee” was the Pope's nephew, a soldier, by name Giovanni Bernardino Carbon. Cardinal Caraffa and the Duke of Alva agreed to appoint him warder of the citadel of Paliano, till the 14th March 1558, when he was to consign it to King Philip's nominees, provided compensation had been made for it to Giovanni Caraffa, to whom this Colonna castle had been transferred by Paul IV.