Venice: September 1557, 1-5

Pages 1270-1294

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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September 1557, 1–5

Sept. 1. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 1009. Giacomo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The greater part of St. Quentin having been burned, and the fortress destroyed by the batteries, the King of Spain has determined to diminish it, and is having four bulwarks raised in haste, and is intent on victualling and garrisoning the citadel; having also sent a reinforcement of troops to Le Catelet, which is completely sur- rounded, and although the place is very strong, yet being very small, it is much feared that it will follow St. Quentin.
The King is informed that considerable bodies of troops are being raised near the Franche Comtá with the intention of passing into the county of Bresse, and perhaps advance towards Lyons; so his Majesty has sent to raise 8,000 Switzers for that quarter, nor does he doubt having them, as the confederate cantons gave him to understand that in this his need he was to make use of as many of their troops as required by him; but this fresh stir is kept as secret as possible to avoid causing greater alarm to this population. The King continues raising money, and there being 17 accountants-general in this kingdom, he has determined to appoint as many more, they dividing the charge with the others, he giving them the same profit (utilità), each of which offices will be sold for 25,000 francs; and he will also appoint a “keeper of the seal” for each Parliament, which will be sold for the same price, his Majesty thus obtaining upwards of 600,000 francs. He has accepted 300,000 francs from the merchants of Lyons, with the usual interest of 16 per cent., and four per cent. on restitution of the capital. Thus it seems confirmed from every quarter that his most Christian Majesty purposes continuing the war even during the winter, though from the nature of the territory (qualità del paese) it is a very difficult undertaking.
The Germans are marching, and will number 10,000 [foot], and 1,500 blacksmiths (feraroli).
Paris, 1st September 1557.
[Italian, partly in cipher; the portions in italics deciphered Signor Luigi Pasini.]
Sept. 2. MS., St. Mark's Library, Cod. XXIV., Cl. X., p. 187, recto. 1010. Cardinal Pole to King Philip.
Of this fortunate event conceded by our Lord God to your Majesty through the capture of St. Quentin, I congratulated myself chiefly from having heard the account from the Earl of Worcester [William Somerset, eighth Earl of Worcester], of the good and holy orders given and enforced by your Majesty; whereby I showed (per li quali ho mostrato) how a element Prince should wage war, which will deservedly gain for you great grace and favour with God and man. Thus may it please His Divine Majesty to continue favouring you for the speedy attainment of that good and permanent peace which is desired for the restoration of Christendom [now] so sorely harassed, as I am certain has been your Majesty's chief object in this war. The most Serene Queen has also evinced great gladness at this, principally from the testimony offered by your Majesty on this occasion of your piety, to the glory of God and to His true honour, especially because it took place with so little loss of life, which grace she always prays His Divine Majesty to grant you in all your victories. Here we are anxiously expecting news of some good agreement with his Holiness, which may our Lord God deign to grant and ever have your Majesty in His keeping, and for His service favour your Majesty, whose hand I humbly kiss.
London, 2nd September 1557.
Sept. 2. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives. (1st letter.) 1011. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
Yesterday, at 9 p.m., Placido, on his return from the camp, came to me, by order of the Cardinal “Camerlengo,” to give me account of what he had done. He said he found the army under Paliano, that he understood the Duke of Alva meant to storm it, and although, from the preceding negotiation, he knew him to be greatly irritated, as he considers himself to have been duped and offended in it by the Pope and his nephews (da questi Signori), they not having chosen to execute what was put into writing by Cardinal Caraffa on the island, having subsequently sent by Placido another very different one, (fn. 1) having first of all not chosen to hear Don Francisco Pacheco, who had been despatched by the Duke to King Philip with what was said on the island, and returned with the decision; the said Duke having also heard that the Pope and his nephews (questi Signori) published many things about his ill-will, and had also endeavoured to make this negotiation pass through other hands, causing it to be reported that he had no authority, and that it was well he had not, by reason of his ill-will; all which things the said Placido had stated plainly to Cardinal Caraffa; but that nevertheless, having been commanded, he went, and that after presenting the letter from the Cardinal “Camerlengo” to the Duke of Alva, he told him besides that well nigh all the difficulties being reduced to Paliano, and it having been said heretofore that should the peace be made it might be deposited in the hands of a confidential person, the Cardinal Caraffa and these lords believed that no more trustworthy person could be found than his brother the Duke of Paliano; to which the Duke of Alva replied that they deceived themselves, as he should always place greater trust in Marc' Antonio Colonna, who had never taken up arms against the King his lord, whereas the Count of Montorio, (fn. 2) as general of the Papal forces, had turned them against him. Placido, seeing his Excellency determined on this point, having used many arguments to prove that so small a difficulty ought not to deprive the world of so great a benefit as peace, requested the Duke to state what he required by proposing fair terms, because, knowing the goodwill of the Pope and his nephews (e di questi altri), he chose to hope that the affair might be settled.
The Duke having taken time to consider, the next morning, being rather indisposed, he sent for Placido to his bedside, and had a letter consigned to him addressed to the Cardinal “Camerlengo,” the contents of which, he said, were that to remove all cause for rancour he had considered that no good nor sincere peace could be made without granting a general pardon to all persons on both sides, and without restoring what had been taken from them (la robba), and releasing the prisoners; which having been heard by Placido, he told me that he said to the Duke that this was tantamount to breaking the whole negotiation, as it implied a demand for restoring his whole state to Marc' Antonio Colonna, and for pardoning Ascanio dalla Cornia, and giving him back his property, concessions which the Pope will never make, and the more as whenever peace was talked of, his Holiness left himself at liberty to punish his vassals and rebels. Placido also told me that in reply to this the Duke of Alva said that his intention was that Marc' Antonio Colonna and Ascanio dalla Cornia, as persons (come quelli) who had committed no offence against the Pope (sic), should be abandoned in this peace, and that if heretofore he the Duke had consented to this [their exclusion ?], he no longer considered himself bound, as the Pope and his nephews (questi de qui) had been the first to retract what had been put into writing by Cardinal Caraffa. To this, Placido, from the wish that his great exertions for the peace might bear fruit, and because, should the war continue, he foresees the inevitable ruin of Italy, did not fail to rejoin boldly that his Excellency was losing a great opportunity for preserving that good name which he had enjoyed hitherto from his wish to be the author of the peace, and that he would cause every one to believe that he had perhaps been of another mind; that he, Placido, from what little he could see, was of opinion that the welfare of his King, and the individual glory of his Excellency, required them, the more they sought advantage, the more to evince a wish to grant ample conditions of peace to a Vicar of Christ who is the head of our religion, with whom, and with the other Princes, he who makes concessions gains greatly; but that having already found the Duke determined and obstinate about what he had read to him of the letter's contents, he came back quite confused, as he saw the matter brought to such a pass that there was little to hope about it. I said to Placido, in reply, that my sole hope of this peace was in the Duke of Florence, for which purpose his ambassador was said to have gone to him. He rejoined, “This hope is small, for the Duke of Alva will choose to show that everything depends on him.”
Then this morning, having allowed a day to intervene for the visits, I went to the Duke de Guise, who, although I found him with Cardinal Dandino, who had arrived shortly before me, the moment he saw me, dismissed him, saying, “Wait, as I wish to be with Monsignor the ambassador of Venice.” I congratulated him on his convalescence, saying it would please your Serenity to hear that he was well and cheerful. He thanked me lovingly, and said, “You will have heard of what happened to the Constable.” I replied, “Yes, I heard it with regret, because I know that any disaster of the most Christian King disturbs my most illustrious Signory;” and he continued, “It cannot be otherwise, as I know the King's goodwill towards that most illustrious Republic, and was commissioned by his Majesty to go and pay my respects to them, but being unable to do so I shall send one of my attendants to ask them for the pass for my men-at-arms and the Switzers who wish to return, not doubting that, if every convenience was given to King Philip, the like will be done to a King of France who is so much your friend,” which I thought it fit to confirm to him, knowing your Serenity's custom. He then continued, “To speak frankly, I shall depart for France with a number of gentlemen, and 10 galleys will be in readiness, as besides the six, viz., two of Marshal Strozzi's, two of my brother's, (fn. 3) and two of the Pope's, four others have arrived. I am sorry to leave the Pope in this his need, but the shirt is nearer to the skin than to the doublet (ma tocca pin la camiscia, ch' el giubbone). I was with his Holiness yesterday, and shall return to him this evening. Should the affairs of the world adjust themselves, I hope that the Pope will acknowledge our goodwill, and that those most illustrious noblemen of yours will also in like manner not fail to assist the Church. I believe that the Cardinal of Ferrara will go to Venice; and by three sets of advices from France I hear that the hostile army has halted under St. Quentin, which has pleased me greatly, for had the enemy advanced they might have done mischief. I hope that the King will rally and soon raise a more powerful army than the one he had.” This conversation having lasted a long while, and as Cardinal Dandino and other personages were still waiting, I then took leave.
On returning home I found Cardinal Caraffa's chief private secretary, who told me his master wished to speak to me in the course of two hours, and that if the time inconvenienced me I was to send the secretary. I replied that after my dinner, which was then on table, I would very willingly go to him, and that neither now nor at any moment would it inconvenience me to do so for his service.
Rome, 2nd September 1557.
Sept. 2. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives. (2nd letter.) 1012. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
On going to Cardinal Caraffa immediately after dinner, I found him talking at the window with Cardinal St. Angelo [Ranuccio Farnese], evincing great anger, and until the colloquy between the two Cardinals ended I conversed with the Right Reverend Vitelli about ordinary topics, Marquis Montebello telling my secretary in the meanwhile that he saw things going to final ruin, as the French were departing, and to stay them great things were required, such as the consignment of cities, &c., whilst the Duke of Alva demanded unfair terms according to Placido's last report; nor here in Rome were there any means for continuing the war, so the Pope would be compelled to make peace to his indignity (which he will never do), or else escape from hence to Avignon or to Venice, and because at Avignon he would be amongst barbarians, who bear him scanty friendship (sarà trà barbari pochi suoi amici), he believes he will chôose Venice.
At the close of this conversation Cardinal Caraffa dismissed Cardinal St. Angelo, and called me to the window, saying, “I would fain speak to you at liberty, and that these rascals” (per dir la parola sua, queste canaglie) (to use his own words, certain gentlemen and soldiers being in the chamber,) “were not here,” and he then looked so fiercely on the persons in the chamber that they went out of it; whereupon he said to me, “I have no good news to tell you, for the affairs of Italy are in so sorry a plight that never was the like. We are reduced to putting the crown of this province on the head of King Philip. You will have seen me angry with Cardinal St. Angelo, because he told me that if his brother Duke Octavio had not yet accepted the command of the expedition against Ferrara, he was about to accept it; so I was compelled to show my teeth, and to tell him that this is their recompense to the Pope for having saved them from ruin on the passage of the Duke de Guise, who would have taken Parma had I not been upon the spot (quale volea fare quella impresa che se non era Io). I assured him that this resolve will be their ruin, and the devil will take them (et il Diavolo se li porterà), as they are making for themselves too many enemies, and principally the See Apostolic, of which the Duke is feudatory, and me amongst the rest, not only as the Pope's nephew, but as cardinal, nor will I ever be their friend; and in conclusion I told him that I am at this moment sending a courier to his brother (fn. 4) that they may not do anything so unbecoming (che non caschino in simile inconveniente); but I think it will be fruitless, although I told him that they might delay this demonstration of their hatred for the Duke of Ferrara until another time. Besides this resolve of the Duke of Parma, the Duke of Florence has leagued with King Philip for the affairs of Sienna, and is already armed; whilst in this other quarter the Duke of Alva is upon us (n' è addosso), so that we cannot resist him, and he has now discovered his poison by the reply sent by him through the Cavalier Placido to the Cardinal 'Camerlengo,' of which I will give you a copy, that you may send it to the Signory. You will see what an extravagant demand it was. I have not yet shown it to the Pope, thinking that Placido had something else to say by word of mouth in mitigation of the writing, but seeing that he has nothing farther I cannot conceal it from my Prince; and that you may know everything I will also give you the articles which I sent to propose to the Duke of Alva, they being five in number, and as the difficulty seemed to reduce itself to two, viz., the one about restoring the towns of the Church as they stand, I at length consented that they should be restored as they were when the enemy occupied them; the other about Paliano required it to be left to the Duke my brother as it stands, and in this matter likewise I should not have made much difficulty about consigning the castle to a trustee; but now everything is cut short (si taglia ogni cosa) by this writing of the Duke of Alva, and his demands are so strange that would I could fight rather than negotiate, as I should hope in the goodness of God to give me strength and valour, not only against one, but against a thousand, because I should be on the side of reason. Pardon me if I speak angrily, as I cannot do otherwise when I see how those Imperialists (costoro) are proceeding, for they know not how to conduct themselves in the field, and still less in council, though they might believe that were they to agree with the Pope, and render him neutral, they might march with their forces in any direction they pleased; but the fact is that they could not conceal their ill-will on perceiving that this side was closing in earnest (che da questa parte si veniva a stringer la cosa da vero).
“I am writing to the Duke of Ferrara, as you will see by the copy of my letter which I am sending you for transmission to the Signory, whose son I am, and I wish them to know what is passing, that they may provide for accidents, and for this wretched Italy, for when a soldier I used to say that the only thing which could induce me to quit the service of the Prince to whom I had engaged myself, would be a war waged on the Signory of Venice, whose service I (with 25 young men, for I could have disposed of that amount if not of a greater number) would have entered without any stipend, because I should have served a true Italian Prince, as all the others are either of little importance, or else of the French or Imperial faction like the Popes, but the Republic of Venice is always Italian. And that you may be enabled to write to-day without losing any time in what state we find ourselves, I will tell you confidentially, as I always have done, that the Pope is in despair (ch' el Papa si truova disperato), as he has neither money nor troops, nor the other necessary supplies for war, and to make peace is impossible for him, because having expressed his willingness to do so, with some little loss of dignity, not to say worse, these Imperialists (questi) have become so elate that they make the extravagant demands notified to you. The Duke de Guise will depart with the principal commanders, which, however, would give me little annoyance, but he will take away a great part of the army, unless means be found to stop it by giving them all that they demanded, as I told you heretofore, and this the Pope will do, so as not to remain in the hands of devils; it is better to cut off one's arm than to lose the rest of the body for the sake of saving it.
“I tell you that he will give them Civitavecchia, Rome, and whatever they choose, and his Holiness will retire to Venice or into France, and leave the defence here to others. In short I confirm to you the fact that never was the final ruin of Italy more imminent than it is at present, and both these and those (French and Imperialists—e questi e qualli) are, in conclusion, barbarians, and were it in my power I would not have any of them (non vorrei alcuno di lovo); and I have therefore sent a reinforcement of 100 harquebusiers to Civitavecchia lest the French play me some trick (non mi facessero una burla) when going to and fro.
“I have not written these particulars to Cardinal Trivulzi from fear of their being divulged, and request those most excellent lords my fathers to keep them to themselves, if they wish for other news from me, as to tell you the truth everything is soon known at Venice, and of this I receive notice, as would be the case on the present occasion; so request those most illustrious lords in a matter of such great importance to use for the love of God their customary prudence and secrecy.”
Rome, 2nd September 1557.
Sept. 2. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 1013. Giacomo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Yesterday evening the provost of Amiens came to the court and informed his Majesty that the inhabitants were advised of an intended attack on their city by the army of the King of Spain. In the name of the entire population he entreated his most Christian Majesty to provide them with many things required for their defence, and principally with troops, because when the present disturbances commenced, more than 2,000 of their own townspeople went to the war as foot soldiers for the King's service; so although they are bound to defend themselves with their own forces, yet at the present moment they had not the requisite number of troops in the town for their defence, and needed a reinforcement of at least 3,000 infantry.
I wrote to your Serenity heretofore that King Henry had sent troops to Scotland, and had also written to the Queen Regent of that kingdom [Marie de Lorraine], to arrange with those Lords to raise troops in case of need. Advices have now been received that they had mustered 20,000 men, including horse and foot, with which they entered England and took Berwick, and were fortifying it, (fn. 5) wherefore the Queen of England was raising troops. Advices have also been received that certain French vessels captured four ships bound from Flanders to England, said to be worth 150,000 crowns, and amongst other things the captors found 4,000 corslets, which are held in more account than all the rest, owing to the scarcity of armour here, besides the advantage of having taken it out of the enemy's hands.
It is impossible to calm the fear of the people in this city, who continue to fly from it more than ever; and Soissons, Compiegne, and other neighbouring places are quite void of inhabitants and effects. The suburbs of Compiegne are being destroyed by the soldiers there, to secure the town as well as they can; and here in like manner they are making trenches beyond the walls in which to lodge the troops who are expected, the town itself having given them 8,000 sappers for this purpose.
Paris, 2nd September 1557.
Sept. 3. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 1014. Giacomo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
M. de la Vigne, his most Christian Majesty's ambassador to Sultan Soliman, arrived here yesterday, having come by that Sovereign's order, so as to return within a stated period; and from what I have been able to elicit he reports that at the commencement of his embassy, when he arrived at Constantinople, he found the Sultan very ill disposed towards the King, complaining that at the very time when he had him asked for his fleet last year, he stipulated a truce with the Emperor without his participation; and that in like manner this year, when La Vigne again asked it of him, advices arrived that the Pope was negotiating the peace, so that the Sultan enraged did not choose to send it; but that subsequently the ambassador having soothed him, Sultan Soliman consented to offer his most Christian Majesty his very powerful fleet for next year, when he himself in person with an immense army will move towards Hungary on his march to Germany, provided King Henry assure him that he will neither make peace nor truce with his enemies next year; and he sent him a present of a vase more than a span high (più alto di una spana), full of balsam, and a very valuable gold jewelled cup. This was not heard here until altered by the ambassador's own lips, he having announced his departure from Constantinople to the King, by merely writing that he was coming for the purpose of rendering his most Christian Majesty a great service; nor have I as yet been able to elicit what reply the King intends to make to this proposed, though I have indeed been told that these present, troubles may easily compel him to accept the bargain (il partito).
A report prevails that the troops in Le Catelet have surrendered to the King of Spain, they being free to depart with their effects and artillery.
Paris, 3rd September 1557.
[Italian, partly in cipher; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
Sept. 3. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archvies. 1015. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
To-day between 4 and 5 p.m., the time appointed me by the Pope, I found the Cardinals Pacheco and Spoleti in the audience chamber, his Holiness being above in his own chamber with the Cardinal of Naples, (fn. 6) and his councillors. After going to sleep he came down at sunset, and Cardinal Pacheco having approached him he desired the other Cardinals and the Duke of Paliano to keep me company. Shortly afterwards rising from his seat the Pope called me, saying he did not choose me to be inconvenienced, and that Cardinal Pacheco was content that my audience should precede his, and notwithstanding my remonstrances, his Holiness commenced saying, “We are much obliged to the Signory for the many good offices they have performed and are performing for the peace and quiet of Christendom, and especially of Italy and ours (e nostro). We have heard what they did lately in this matter with the Ambassador Vargas, and also what they wrote to their ambassador with King Philip, so we have cause to thank and to be extremely obliged to them, and we pray you to perform this office in our name. The providence of God has in truth conferred on that State their present grandeur, and He will preserve it to them, and make them greater, to support the liberty of Italy, as a medium (un mezo) for quiet and universal welfare; may His Majesty grant that His work and the prayers of the Christian commonwealth, and ours, may effect the desired result, as if affairs here quiet themselves, a general peace may be reasonably hoped for, seeing that the King of France, being humbled by the rout in Picardy, will not refuse it, whilst King Philip, who until then had been rather beaten than otherwise, might to his honour attend to the general quiet.
“The event has been an important one, and not without the will of God, who, although He proceeds lento grada to destroy his own (ad uccider li sui), has now been but too speedy; you know the profane operation of the Constable with regard to cancelling a marriage, the difficulty of which was pending before us, after very many congregations of cardinals, theologians, and canonists had given their votes about it. We pondering them with much discretion and assiduity, so as to do dispassionately what was for the glory of God, the Constable thought fit to recall his son, and by that scandalous and ridiculous device of theirs to cancel of their own accord one marriage, and to make another, to which the King consented because it could not be done without his approval (perchè senza non si poteva fare). Hence comes it that the Lord God has punished them, but we nevertheless shall not fail on this account to have the question decided, and it will perhaps be the cause of a determination ensuing, we do not say about this particular one, but with regard to similar cases in general. And to return to the first topic, we tell you that the King of France being humbled we may reasonably hope for universal peace should the agreement between us and Philip be effected.
“We certainly regretted the disaster of our son the King of France, for we are obliged to him, as he indeed rendered us assistance, though perhaps for his own designs, but it answered us in our need, in which we implored the assistance of everyone, yours, repeatedly, and you also know how earnestly; and it would have been lawful and indeed praiseworthy for us to call the Turks, Moors, and Jews, for our defence, being invaded by those Imperialists (da costoro) without any cause, save because we did not choose, by trusting them, to render ourselves their prey (perchè non ci l'eramo voluti dare in preda), remembering what they did 30 years ago to Clement, who confided in them, and we were present at the sack of this city.
“We understand that to effect this peace the Signory is sending a secretary, (fn. 7) than which nothing could be more agreeable to us; wherefore in like manner as we thank his Sublimity heartily, so do we also pray him not to desist nisi re perfectâ, as should this peace be effected through his medium it will reflect greater glory on him than any other operation performed by the State during the last hundred years.”
I replied, “Holy Father, the Signory never has failed, nor ever will fail, seeking the common weal of Christendom, and from the wish to see your Holiness in quiet and your territory tranquil they have hitherto performed many offices, and are now doing what your Holiness has heard, being convinced by so many of my letters, and by their experience of your goodness, prudence, and piety, that on fair terms you will embrace this quiet.”
“Please God,” said the Pope, “that the desired fruit may be obtained, and that these Imperialists (questi) may choose to accept fair terms, and not contrary to our dignity, because knowing the place in which we find ourselves, and whose vicar we are, we will never fail in our duty in the least, and rather than do anything unworthy of the grade we hold, we would die a thousand deaths.” I added, “Holy Father, I choose to hope, and indeed consider it certain, and assure the Signory, that with the assistance of the Lord God, and of your Holiness' prudence, a stop will be put to these calamities, this benefit being thus conferred on the world, which will expect a yet greater one (il qual maggiore aspettare), (sic), and that you may be enabled with your mind more at ease to attend to 'the Reform' (alla Riforma), which I know your Holiness to have so much at heart, that in the midst of these troubles you did not fail giving a great pledge to that effect to Christendom.” The Pope rejoined, “Should God grant us the grace which we have always desired, as you know, to relieve us from the war, we promise to devote all the hours of our life to the service of His Divine Majesty, and to perform such acts as will satisfy and comfort the world, for we shall commence with ourselves and our household (e da casa nostra), and then reform the others.”
I then said that I would read to him the proposal made by your Serenity to the ambassador Vargas, (fn. 8) that he might see how warmly and how earnestly the Signory had performed this office; so having had the aforesaid proposal read, according to my commission, His Holiness listened to it attentively, nor could he refrain from tears, so that he was compelled to wipe them with his handkerchief; (fn. 9) and he then said, “This was an office truly worthy of the grandeur of that Signory; may the Lord God remunerate them, by preserving and augmenting their State, nor will we fail to contribute our efforts and assistance.” I then had read to him the news letters from Constantinople and from Corfu about the [Turkish] fleet, and subsequently presented to him your Serenity's letter in reply to His Holiness' brief about the election of the Reverend Contarini to the Bishopric of Paphos, in such terms as seemed fitting to me, to thank him for this nomination, and to demonstrate to him the satisfaction thus given to the whole of that illustrious city, owing to the goodness, virtue, and nobility of the reverend personage elected. The Pope then desired the Duke of Paliano to give him the knife of his sword, (fn. 10) (telling him that he and all his family were bound to engrave in their inmost hearts the many obligations conferred on them by your Serenity), and commanded my Secretary to open it, choosing to read it himself, after which he expressed great contentment at having satisfied your Serenity, according to his wish to do whatever else was in his power.
Rome, 3rd September 1557.
Sept 3. Original Letter-Book, Venetian Archives. (2nd letter.) 1016. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
On leaving the Pope, I went to Cardinal Caraffa, whom I found in bed with a slight cold and headache, although he said it was nothing of importance. I communicated to him what I had notified to the Pope, and he replied that the coming of the Secretary could not but be very much to the purpose, as by means of your Serenity's authority the Duke of Alva might perhaps be brought to fairer terms, as assuredly the demands made by him in this his last letter evinced slight good-will; the which letter he had not chosen to show the Pope, to avoid irritating him, being willing to hope the Duke would repent and modify the unfairness of his demands; that last night at midnight he sent Placido to let him know that it was useless to speak again about what had been settled heretofore, but to await the execution of what had been concluded on the island; and that, indeed, if he wished to negotiate them again, he should either send one of his agents hither to treat them, or that some one should be sent to him from hence to that effect, in order to spur him to the conclusion, and also these agents who are negotiating, to their duty. He let him know that his messenger came to Rome the night before last, and the attendants (gli huomini) of the “Camerlengo” having been with him immediately, this gave cause for unjust suspicion of that Cardinal [Guido Ascanio Sforza], and according to State policy (er ragione di Stato) his (the Duke of Alva's) emissaries, viz. Placido and Messer Constantio, might have been examined about this coming of the army to Rome. Cardinal Caraffa added, “As one cannot make them act properly in any other way recourse must be had to similar sorts of stratagems,” and that the Cardinal “Camerlengo” likewise had written in good form. He then continued, “We shall wait to see what he will reply. I also sent him a despatch from the Duke of Florence received at 5 a.m. this morning, of which I was unable to give your Magnificence notice, being then half distracted by a violent headache, and subsequently knowing that you were to be at the palace for audience, I expected to see you as has happened. I will now show you the identical letters of the Duke of Florence, but must tell you first of all that some days ago being urged by his ambassador (as the said Duke was expecting authority to conclude the agreement) to let him know on what terms the Pope would make it, it did not seem fit to me to tell him any particulars, until I heard that the 'power' (il mandato) had reached him. In order not to reveal the will of my Sovereign to a person who, after all, might be without authority, I now gave him the articles treated heretofore with the Duke of Alva, the difficulty resting upon two of them, the one about restoring the towns, either as they now are, or as they stood when taken, the other about this blessed Paliano, which being the head of the quarrel, it would be more than fair for them to leave it to the Pope, rather than the Pope to them. The ambassador went off with this, and subsequently to the hostile army's having come under these walls, I sent a courier after him to tell him of this fact, and that the Duke of Alva chose to enter Rome by another way than that which was fitting and ordinary, praying the Duke of Florence, as an Italian Prince desirous of the welfare of this Holy See, and having, as he gave me to understand, authority, to conclude, and thus put an end to the business speedily, removing the inconveniences which might arise through delay, and that they must not detain me with words (che non mi tenessero in parole), but by discovering their mind give me convenience (comodità) to provide for our affairs, arranging as well as we can with the French.
“The Duke replies to every particular, as you will see by the letters;” and he then drew two letters from under his pillow, the one addressed to the Pope, the other to his Lordship, both dated Florence the 1st of this month. In the one for the Pope, the Duke says he has received his Holiness' brief, and has heard Ricasoli's statement about the agreement, promising to use all assiduity and faithfulness (fede) to effect it, knowing that he will thus serve his Holiness and King Philip, to whom he is obliged, and satisfy himself, as he desires nothing more cordially than this, without any personal design of his own; that in order the more easily to accomplish this negotiation, it was requisite for those who treat in his Holiness' name to speak freely and without reserve, as he likewise would do; that for the future, to avoid troubling his Holiness, he would address everything to Cardinal Caraffa, to whom in the other letter he wrote as above, with this in addition, that he should hasten to give particulars, to gain time, it being necessary to discuss and digest the matter with those in command of the army, and that the lack of these details hitherto was not his fault; that the said Duke of Florence must be enabled to write freely and obtain a reply from the Duke of Alva, and also to have safe conducts, should it be necessary to send to and fro, as by the accompanying despatch he was writing to the Duke of Alva to be pleased to send him some one well informed about the things relating to this agreement; saying besides that he gave his word not to negotiate with the Duke of Alva, through this channel, any matter unconnected with the peace; that six days ago he wrote to the ambassador Vargas at Venice, who has many and ample commissions about these affairs, to come to Florence, where he would have been by this time had he not received letters from the King telling him that his Majesty had received advice that at Rome the negotiation for the agreement had been altogether excluded, and that therefore he was not to move until he received farther commission from the Duke of Florence; the letter ending thus, that in this affair he would not fail in such fidelity, diligence, and obsequiousness, as he knows is due to the Pope, and opportune for the benefit of Italy.
Cardinal Caraffa then said, “Thus are we situated with the Imperialists (con questi); to the others, namely to the French, we give good words and hopes, in order not to be abandoned. Yesterday evening the Duke de Guise made an important proposal, that although what was heard had taken place in France, and that he had an express order from the King to return, yet nevertheless, perceiving his Holiness' need, not only will he not depart, but that had he been in France he would have come hither to assist him; that it was true that being accompanied by a great number of the nobility, he considered it fair for them to have a city for their refuge in case of need, and ports to enable them to depart when he could do so at the pleasure of this State; and here he repeated the demands made on former occasions for the consignment to him of fortresses and ports. He was answered courteously that by similar demands they show little trust in us, as they may rest assured that so long as they shall be allied with the Pope, the Papal cities and harbours will be for their defence, and that even were the Pope by peace to become neutral they would in like manner have the same convenience which was promised them in either case, whether as confederates, or as the sons of a common father. This seemed to pacify him, and he will remain here for a few days; and it is certain that had these French troops delayed their coming into these parts, the Duke of Alva on that night when he showed himself under the walls of Rome would either have stormed the city or encamped here.”
Rome, 3rd September 1557.
Sept. 4. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives. 1017. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador at Rome and Marc' Antonio de'Franceschi, Secretary Extraordinary, to the Doge and Senate.
At 9 a.m. on Thursday, I, secretary, left Venice, and although from Urbino hither the post horses were either jaded, or engaged for the passage of the French army, I nevertheless got here at 9 this morning. The troops had ravaged the country in many places, and to make up for lost time from lack of posters by day, I journeyed by night likewise, and on my way I met a good number of French cavalry destined for Ferrara.
I, ambassador, knowing the value of speed in this business, sent immediately to ask audience of his Holiness, although I knew he wished to remain in privacy, as he purposes celebrating to-morrow, to take the most holy Jubilee. He appointed for 4.30 p.m., and suspecting that I might go even later, I thought it well to confer first with Cardinal Caraffa, and so on going to his most illustrious Lordship we found him still in bed with a cold. I, secretary, stated to him what I had in commission from your Serenity to do with the Duke of Alva, and endeavoured to tell him, for the most part, the very prudent words in my commission, and then in your Serenity's name prayed him, that if the terms proposed by the Duke were fair, to the dignity of the Pope, that he would be pleased to favour and assist the affair with his great authority, so that the desired result of peace might be obtained, which was so necessary for this afflicted Italy, and from which universal quiet might subsequently be expected to the especial benefit of all Christendom. The Cardinal replied, returning thanks to your Serenity for this office, and promising to aid so holy a work, as he always had done, although many persons perhaps believed the con- trary, adding. “If the said individuals choose to believe that I have the slightest knowledge of politics (che in me sia punto di cognitione di stato) (I also having had my share in them), they will comprehend that I could not have done otherwise than seek peace always, because it profited the See Apostolic, the Pope, and our family, more than war, as besides the Pope's having no forces of his own, and that being allied with others he is necessarily compelled to depend on them for the war, I can gain nothing whatever by it, as even were the kingdom of Naples to be obtained, it would not benefit me who have not any claim on it; but from peace, besides moral and physical quiet, I derived advantage, were it solely the money expended for military purposes, which would be turned to the profit (in utile) of my house, thus leaving to our descendants wherewithal to live. May it please God that the Duke of Alva also content himself with what is fair in like manner as I shall prove to the world the Pope's goodwill and mine, and that of my brothers, with regard to peace, as from the beginning the Duke offered, in the presence of many persons, and even in the College of Cardinals, that whenever it was desirable for the See Apostolic, he would renounce the State of Paliano to the Pope to do what he pleased with it, but not indeed that he would leave it to the Duke of Alva, nor to King Philip. This I say, because the matter is reduced to two articles, as I told you ambassador yesterday, one that the towns be restored as they stood, about which we shall be agreed, and also concerning the other about Paliano, provided there be no question of restoring it to Marc' Antonio Colonna, in which case means will be found to relieve the Imperialists from any suspicion about that fortress.
The Cardinal then commenced justifying his proceedings from the beginning when he went to France, speaking of the commencement of the war during his absence, of the conference on the island at Porto, of the coming of the French army as caused by the Duke of Alva, who at that interview not choosing to conclude the agreement, he the Cardinal protested that he would make the French advance, and moreover endeavour to form fresh friendships. Concerning Don Francisco Pacheco, he said he never explained the proposals brought by him from the Court of King Philip; that when Placido di Sanguini passed through Rome under pretence of going to the Court, and gave him the letter of the Duke of Alva, about what took place at Porto, he replied that had the Duke stipulated the agreement then, the French would not have come forward, so that the fault was his. He then mentioned the going (l'andare) of Cavalier Placido to the Tronto, the unfair demands of the Duke of Alva, and other things written by me ambassador from time to time; coming to the conclusion that at present damages and interest were not demanded, neither was there any punctilio about who should propose, as he the Cardinal himself had proposed such terms that the Duke of Alva must accept them, both as a Christian averse to the ruin of the See Apostolic, and as a statesman, whose interest it is to quiet matters, that he may turn his forces elsewhere, thus rendering greater service to his King; for, in conclusion he will be unable so easily to occupy the Papal States, as they comprise fortresses which will hold out for years and years, nor will the Princes of Christendom choose to witness either the destruction of the Pope's territory or the supreme dominion of King Philip in Italy.
From Cardinal Caraffa we went to the Pope, whose foot I secretary kissed, and he said immediately that he wished me to have a good hand in this negotiation, which was a very difficult one, on account of the Duke of Alva, who was not a good minister for the making of this peace, as besides his pride and haughtiness, he was an interested party by reason of consanguinity, he being the cousin of Don Garcia de Toledo, the brother-in-law of Marc' Antonio Colonna, who being unmarried and childless, Don Garcia hoped to inherit his property, so that the Duke was serving a private individual rather than his master, who showed himself well disposed to make peace with his Holiness, the Duke doing the contrary, adding fresh insults daily, thinking, through their successes, to make him do what was unworthy of his grade, but that rather than offer an injury to Christ, cujus cicem gerebat, he would renounce life; that he had punished his rebels justly, and here he narrated the acts of the Colonna family since many years, down to the present day, the death of the Lady Livia, (fn. 11) and things said heretofore as written by me ambassador, saying that by depriving and expelling them, he did as done by all other Popes who had heart, such as Alexander VI., and Paul III.; that the Imperialists (costoro) had taken them under their protection without any cause, and made war on the See Apostolic; justifying himself by saying that the first troops he raised were on account of the Turkish fleet which came into these seas; that the French complained of this, the Emperor's ambassador here, Marquis de Sarria, thanking him for it. That he subsequently increased his forces from having discovered the treacherous proceedings of the Imperialists (d'Imperiali), narrating the affair of Garcilasso and other prisoners; that the partition made by them of the Papal States deserved a thousand deaths, and that none of his predecessors would have spared their lives, and that so impious had been their proceedings that he himself had occasionally remorse of conscience, and believed he had offended God by his clemency; adding the things about poisons and other treacherous acts written heretofore by me ambassador, and which I do not repeat to avoid wearying your Serenity.
In conclusion, the Pope said he had not entered into these details to frighten me secretary, so that I might not execute my commission, but to give me a little information about the business, as he knew that the Duke of Alva would represent the circumstances in a false and contrary light, so that having heard both sides, the secretary would be able to make a true statement to your Serenity.
I then explained my commission as represented by me to Cardinal Caraffa, requesting his Holiness in your Serenity's name, if the terms of agreement were admissible, to accept them, that as common father he might treat the universal peace. He replied that from the negotiation I should be able to comprehend who had failed to make the peace, about which it was superfluous to remind him as he had never wished for war, but to obey the Lord God, who recommends peace: “Pacem meam do cobis, pacem relinquo vobis, non quomodo mundas dat ego do robis;” and that if he has been at war, it was compulsory, and that if he called the French he was forced to do so for defence, for which it would even have been lawful to call every sort of infidel, and not only Christians. The more he said these things the more inflamed did he become, like a person who did not choose to be suspected of having wished for the war; so I, ambassador, endeavoured to soothe him, by saying that the secretary's chief commission as stated to his Holiness, was to seek peace, to his dignity, as with regard to the Pope's wish for peace, your Serenity had been informed about it, by so many of my letters, and by his Holiness' nature, which rendered you very certain of the fact, because through peace he would be enabled to attend to his magnanimous designs concerning the Reform. The Pope being quite pacified by this, replied, “Were there no other reason, these Imperialists (questi) on that account alone would deserve every evil, for having during two consecutive years impeded the most holy Reform, so that we could not continue it, as commenced by us, for assuredly, ambassador, but little would have remained to do; and had we held the Council, it would have been a guarantee in confirmation of the things done for the general satisfaction, rather than for anything else; but we tell you in conclusion that although one who is our vassal has persecuted us with so much impiety, that it would have sufficed for a Julian the Apostate, and not for a King who professes to be Catholic, and although he has done such damage to the Papal States that three millions of gold could not repair it, yet should they repent and do what they ought, we will open the arms of our mercy to them, and forgive them every past injury.” I, ambassador, said I considered it certain that this would come to pass, knowing, as I did, the good-will of his Holiness, and choosing to hope that King Philip would cause his ministers to carry into effect what he had always announced; and that with the Pope's good leave the secretary would go to the Duke of Alva immediately on the receipt of his reply. His Holiness answered, “Let him go in God's name, and the sooner the better,” and that he would not now thank your Serenity for this office, worthy indeed of so great a Republic as that of Venice, founded by the Lord God, and maintained for the universal benefit of Christendom, as he chose his obligation, and the return of thanks to be coeval with his existence; and with this we took leave.
I, secretary, immediately on the return of the courier with the Duke of Alva's reply, will go to his Excellency to execute the rest of your Excellency's commission, and then give respectful account of the result.
Rome, 4th September 1557.
Sept. 4. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives. (2nd letter.) 1018. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
On Thursday, in the congregation of the Inquisition, the Pope could not refrain from complaining of the Duke of Alva in such words as usually uttered by him.
His Holiness had intended to speak about the affairs of the Legation of England, as all the Cardinals were present, but some of them told him that there was an agent (un huomo) here from Cardinal Pole, to whom it would be well to give audience before any decision. The Pope replied that he did not care to have audience. But late this evening, the Pope received the agent. With regard to the affairs of England, when Cardinal Morone requested permission to take the jubilee, it was denied him.
Rome, 4th September 1557.
Sept. 4. Original Despatch Venetian Archives. 1019. Michiel Surian, Venetian Ambassador with King Philip, to the Doge and Senate.
Part of the army has proceeded to Le Catelet, the King remaining at St. Quentin with the rest to repair the ruins of the fortress caused by the batteries, and those of the town owing to the sack and the fire; the army will not depart from those confines until after the capture of Le Catelet, so that there may be no impediment in their rear. Catelet is on the road between Cambrai and St. Quentin; it is a small citadel (è una Roccha picciola), but strong and well defended, having been built in the modern fashion and well flanked, and it has a more than sufficient garrison, and amongst its chief commanders there is said to be one Lapo an Italian; all the besieged evincing confidence and courage, of which they have much need should they mean to hold out against so strong a force and without any hope of assistance. Some pieces of heavy artillery have already been sent to the spot, and the battering commenced on 1st instant, and still continues; but it is believed that although the defenders waited for the battering, they will not do the like by the assault.
After despatching the affair of Le Catelet, the army will follow up the victory, but it is not yet known for certain what road they will take, decisions of this sort being manifested solely by results, but the general opinion is that they will either besiege Peronne, which is also on the Somme a few leagues below St. Quentin, or else La Fere, which is more in the interior of France. Both those places are strong and important, and should the march be towards La Fere it will show that King Philip taking fortune at the flood (con questo corso di fortuna), purposes making way in France (penetrar nella Francia), as said by the Spaniards, who elate with victory according to their custom, during these two months whilst they can keep the field, design spoiling and laying waste the whole of France. If they move in the direction of Peronne, it will be a sign that his Majesty intends to make himself master of the river Somme, which was heretofore the ancient frontier of these provinces (di questi paesi), and strengthen himself in this part, so as to be able subsequently with more time and with greater security to advance further. But let them make what expedition they please, the general and reasonable opinion is that in both places they will find difficulties, Peronne being considered very strong, nor do they hope to find it unprepared like St. Quentin; it is also said that La Fere is strong, and being more inward they will find greater obstacles, and most especially as the King of France is said to be at no great distance from that place, and that in that neighbourhood he has an army corps which increases daily. But were King Philip to accomplish no other expedition this year than what he has effected hitherto, it is so great a one that when he departed hence for the army there was no one who dared desire so great a victory.
Whether his Majesty will accompany the army or remain at Cambrai or St. Quentin, as some persons think, is not yet settled; but should his Majesty remove to a greater distance without giving me farther notice I shall be much embarrassed, unless in the meanwhile I hear from your Serenity what you wish me to do, as without your command I dare not disobey the King's order.
Brussels, 4th September 1557.
[Italian, partly in cipher; the portion in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
Sept. 5. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 1020. Michiel Surian, Venetian Ambassador with King Philip, to the Doge and Senate.
The Admiral, who was taken prisoner at St. Quentin, has been sent to a castle near Bruges, and the prisoners of less account are scattered about, some here, some there, in several places, in such wise that there is not a town in these provinces but has its share of them, which whether done by design or accident affords universal proof of King Philip's victory and of his adversary's defeat.
The prisoners who have no money to spend will be sent to the galleys, except the Germans, who have been dismissed, under oath not to serve the King of France again during a certain period; and those who can pay ransom will pay it heavily (la pagaranno aspra), for the Spaniards, the “Blacksmiths,” and the Flemings do not yield one to the other in cupidity for gain; but M. D'Andelot was fortunate, for being the prisoner of the Spanish captain, Navaretto, he was given in custody to two Spanish soldiers, who being suborned by his words and promises escaped with him to France; so that the time passed by him in prison in the Castle of Milan was profitably employed, he having learnt there the Spanish tongue and Spanish artifice (la' lingua Spagnuola et la industria).
The camp suffers from great scarcity of provisions, and has many other inconveniences in ordinary, but above all from the insolence of the “Blacksmiths,” who consider it lawful (quali si fanno lecito) to offend both friends and foes, doing whatever they please, and obeying no one, nor is it opssible to curb them. Being the sinew oif this army they are therefore universally respected, and should it come to pass that they do not receive their pay when due, as is possible, they would be capable of some great and signal mutiny (grande et segnalato disordine). Thus in war the losers suffer detriment from their enemies, and the victors have to remain at the mercy of their friends; and blessed are those sovereigns to whom the Lord God has given the grace to know how to remain at peace.
The taking of St. Quentin, which is considered of such great importance, will prove but little to the honour of King Philip, unless Catelet and some other neighbouring places be obtained, as otherwise they will have to raze St. Quentin, or let it return into the hands of the French, that place being surrounded in every direction by very strong fortresses, connected one with the other. Of late daily consultations have been held, but they have not yet come to any decision, for there is not time to fortify St. Quentin so as to render it tenable, and it would be too expensive; and to take the other places of importance is considered difficult if not impossible, as besides their being all strong, it cannot be expected to find them unprovided. My intelligencer is of opinion that were the French inclined to make peace on suitable terms, they would not find much difficulty on this side; and yesterday an express from Lorraine passed through this place on his way to the Duchess at Ghent, and he may perhaps be the bearer of something about peace, in which case I hope to hear it, and will give your Serenity immediate advice of everything, though I am much troubled because, owing to the negligence and bad faith of these post office officials, I am compelled to send all my letters at a venture.
Brussels, 5th September 1557.
[Italian, partly in cipher; the portion in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
Sept 5. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives. 1021. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, and Marc' Antonio de'Franceschi, Secretary, to the Doge and Senate.
Placido having returned last night, I, ambassador, sent my secretary to the Cardinal “Camerlengo,” who told him that the said Placido arrived at 4h. 40m. a.m., bringing him a long letter from the Duke of Alva, giving account of all that had taken place about this agreement, from the commencement of the war until now, because the “Camerlengo” had reproached him with not having that good will to make terms which he had endeavoured to demonstrate hitherto; so in this letter he recapitulated all that had taken place, showing that he had always been of the same mind, seeking solely to be certified of the Pope's will, as was the case also at present, it seeming to him that to lay aside all rancour, and to make a durable peace, and not a suspension of hostilities under the name of peace, they ought to pardon all subjects on one side and the other, because those who were excluded never being pacified, and the Colonnas choosing to recover their State, whilst those in possession insist on defending it, the fire would thus be kindled on the confines of the kingdom of Naples which his King would wish to extinguish if possible, for the entire prevention of any cause for scandal; but, nevertheless, should this be rejected, let them find some other security whereby to effect a complete and durable peace, as he will not fail to accept it. The Cardinal “Camerlengo” added that same good might be anticipated from a conference, in which promises and secret articles might be made between the parties, for publication hereafter at the fitting moment, which would adjust everything, such as for the Caraffas to promise to give Paliano to any nominee of King Philip's, provided fair compensation be made them; and even shuold they disapprove of an interview, that the Duke should at least appoint a confidential person instead with his authority, with whom to negotiate, as he is maturally irresolute, and much more so at present, as he is afraid of doing something that, besides other errors attributed to him by his rivals, might ruin him in his honour; but were there anyone who could convince him of the glory to be obtained by his King, and himself in particular, by stipulating terms with the Pope of this present time, making him understand by experience that the ordinary garrison of the kingdom of Naples, without other assistance, could advance even to the gates of Rome, the Cardinal “Camerlengo” is of opinion that the Duke would determine to make peace, this side having come to fair conditions.
The Cardinal also remarked that these consultations (questi consigli) could not be held by letters, because they know now how to reply, nor can the Duke of Florence consult with him, not being on the spot, and even were the Duke of Alva to send him anyone he would send him with a limited power, so that much time would be lost; that the Duke of Alva is surrounded, either by Spaniards, who are ill disposed or interested, like Don Garcia, or else by impassioned Italians, such as Mere' Antonio Clonna, or Ascanio dalla Corgna, whose counsels increase the Duke's constitutional irresolution in such a way that he knows not how to take such steps as very reason would require.
Then to-day we were with Cardinal Caraffa, he having sent for as. He said, Placido having returned with a long letter from the Duke of Alva, he thought fit to communicate it to us, that I, secretary, being informed about everything, might perform better office for this holy peace; and, saying this, he desired one of his chamberlains to go and tell Cardinal Vitelli to give him the identical letter, as he wished to show it us, and until it was brought he said, “The Duke of Alva, although by a variety of means, is always bent on one and the same purpose, namely, to obtain from the Pope things which are not fair, such as the resolution of their States to his Holiness' rebels, a demand made for the sole purpose of gaining time by prolonging the negotiation, in hopes of the departure of the French, so that he may then come back to Rome, and by force compel us to do what he chooses, but he deceives himself, for the Pope and all the rest of us would prefer death to doing what is unworthy, and to the dishonour of this See and of Christ. This his demand for reciprocal pardon for the rebels on one side and the other is unreasonable, for on the Pope's side there are no rebels of King Philip, and if my brothers and others have served his Holiness in this war, they had reason to do so, as before the commencement of hostilities, the Duke [Giovanni Caraffa] was Captain-General, and the Marquis [Antonio Caraffa] Governor of the forces in his absence, both of them being the Pope's stipendiaries, and then serving the Prince of Princes, against one who was his feudatory, and for rebellion forfeited the fief. On the other hand, the like cannot justly be said either of Marc' Antonio or of Ascanio della Cornia, who rebelled with manifest treachery. I have willed to say these few words for the information of the secretary, knowing that these tales (questi conti) will be told him by the Duke of Alva.”
During this conversation Cardinal Vitelli entered the chamber with the letter, and having given it to Cardinal Caraffa, he then whispered a few words in his ear and withdrew. Cardinal Caraffa then said that Cardinal Vitelli told him in a whisper that he brought the original letter, becasue he had made some copies, in which certain articles were omitted, that the said copies might be shown to the French without letting them know the continued thread of the agreement, having always kept the original letter in his hand lest they should have cause to complain that from time to time the whole had not been communicated to them; and also that he might show the Pope such part of the letter as might least offend his Holiness, to avoid enraging him; but that to us he would read it all as it stood, both to confide everything to me, ambassador, as he always had done, for communication to your Serenity, as also that I, secretary, might be well informed of the mode of proceeding of the Duke of Alva, who merely touches on what is in his favour, passing over all that can be turned against him; and so Cardinal Caraffa read the letter, which was addressed to the Cardinal “Camerlengo,” signed by the Duke of Alva, and dated Gensano on the 4th instant.
The Duke writes that he has received the instruction from the Cardinal “Camerlengo,” and he narrates the cause of his commencing hostilities, which was that he knew of the Pope's hatred to his King, and of the writing ofthe “Fiscale,” and of the suit made by him in Consistory; as also of the Pope's arming, and negotiating with all the Christian Powers against his Majesty; that firts he had him prayed to desist from this his intention, and to remove the suspicion reasonably entertained about the kingdom of Naples; that after the commencement of hostilities he sent Pirro dell' Offredo about the peace, he being put into the Castle. Here the Cardinal having stiopped reading, said, “You see that the Duke does not allade to the insolence of Marquis Sarria, then ambassador from the Emperor, to the flight of the galleys from Civitavecchia, to the treacherous acts of Garilasso, and of Giovanni Antonio Tassis, and others who do not deserve to live; nor to the poisons which they wished to have given to us, for already some days ago these two, after having been several months in prison to sift the process, were put to death. He does not tell of the Abbate Brisinga who sent a person to shoot me with a harquebuse; he passes over the Signor Camillo Colonna, who counselled the said Duke to wage the war, and being subsequently put in the Castle, sent out and received notes from the enemy through his wife, part of which were found on four horsemen, whom I had arrested at the gates when they were going out with our cavalry, which we were sending forth on military service, and part in the house of the Lady Vittoria, wife of the aforesaid Signor Camillo, in a ball of thread (in un gemo di filo), according to a hint given by me to one who went to search, I having learnt this secret from the women at the sack of Chieri, when I took a house, in which I saved the honour of some 20 women there, but, like a soldier, I endeavoured to have money, and on frightening an old woman she gave me 100 crowns, which she took out of a ball of thread. (Perchè Io havea imparato questo secreto dalle donne, al sacco di Chieri, c'havendo Io presa una casa nella quale salvai l'honore a forse 20 donne, che v'erano; ma cercai come soldato d'haver danari, e facendo paura ad una vecchia, ella mi diede 100 scudi, i quali cavò d'un gemo di filo). (fn. 12)
After reading the rest of the letter alluding to past events, the Cardinal then said, “He now comes to the last reply received by him from Placido,” and recommenced reading, that the Duke of Alva believed that to make a good and durable peace, it would be necessary to pardon the subjects on one side and the other, and that this would especially become his Holiness; as he holds the place of Him who never wearies of pardoning, as he, being in this Holy See, ought to give a good example to the others; that it seemed to him that the best security that could be given would be to replace all persons (ognuno) in the States, and that his Holiness' nephews should receive compensation (mercede) from King Philip; that the Pope should promise not to give passage, nor any other convenience for an attack on the kingdom of Naples; and that he should remain neutral, as otherwise it would be a suspension of hostilities rather than a peace which would be observed until the Pope find himself in better fortune, besides which, the Colonnas finding themselves deprived of their State would seek to recover it, those in possession endeavouring to defend it, so that there would be no quiet; but that should this not be found good, they were to propose some other security, as if a good peace could be hoped thence he will not fail to accept it.
Having finished reading, the Cardinal said, “You see how obstinately the Duke persists in his first demands, and also how he contradicts himself; he chooses the Pope to remain neutral, and before ending his discourse he requires that neither passage nor victuals be given, and that his nephews should become Imperialists by accepting reward (mercede) from King Philip. I do not know what security they demand, but to me it seems much for the Pope to take his King into favour and to pardon him, instead of declaring his fief to be forfeited; that his Holiness is to dismiss the French, to receive the dismantled towns without demanding either damages or interest, and that Paliano is to be razed. I should like to know what greater glory this Duke could wish for, no what greater security we could give him; were the Popedom herditary I should propose hostages, but on the Pope's demise, and on the election of his successor, the hostage here would be released, and the individual of our family over there would be either beheaded or poisoned. If I could speak to this Duke, I would explain all these things to him, as by letters one person writes, and the other writes back whatever he pleases, quoniam epistola non erubiscit, but the human face does, and rejoinders produce the desired results.”
I, ambassador, then confirmed what his Lordship had said, adding that from his quality, and the good will always evinced by him towards the peace, nothing but the best could be hoped; and I also said that should it seem fit to him for the secretary with a fair opportunity to propose a conference to the Duke of Alva he would do so willingly, which I suggested from having seen that in the proposal made by your Serenity to the ambassador Vargas the chief proposition was the interview. I also considered it certain that no better way could be found for bringing to an end this affair of the peace which is so greatly desired by everybody. He replied yes, very joyfully, as he had the heart to make the Pope consent, and that with regard to himself to treat so holy a work he would go to Naples should the Duke be there, even were he sure to die, as he held life in no account, knowing that 10 years more or less do not much matter; (fn. 13) that if when a soldier he had risked his life for three crowns per day on the demand of temporal Princes, so could he risk it for the service of God, who could give him such remuneration that neither King Philip, nor all the other kings together, could give him the like. “To die! I never feared, that, as the Duke of Alva knows, when I was his soldier, besides which, many a time to serve a comrade, or to gratify some sensual appetite of my own, I have hazarded my life, and ought I not now to pledge it for Christ, most especially having the example of so many martyrs who have washed (lavato) Rome and all this neighbourhood with their blood; which I say to assure you, that as for me I would go anywhere to do what becomes his Holiness and the Cardinalate. Let some midway place, of which there are many, be appointed for the interview, with a limited company on both sides to guarantee security, and I will be there, provided they come to a decision speedily, as delay does not suit us, the Pope being brought to such a pass that he must either make terms or give himself up to despair, and do what he has never chosen to do hitherto, to keep the French here, by giving them even Castelsantangelo, if they demand it; it being better to remain at the mercy of those who have shown themselves our friends than of those who, like enemies, have done us all the harm they could, and are continuing the same course, which, in the end, will not profit the Imperialists themselves, for years and years will elapse before they expel the French from the fortresses which will be consigned to them; nor will it perhaps be in the power of his Holiness' successor to get rid of them; but I choose this to be our last resource, and that everything he attempted previously, so that if compelled we may have some excuse. Should the French depart, the whole of this State would be topsy-turvy, at the mercy of the enemy, who would ravage, it entirely, consuming this gear's harvest and that of the year to come, because having no army in the field, the only tenable fortresses would be Roem, so long as it is victualled, Nepi, Orvicto, and a few other places, and the rest would be theirs.”
When I, ambassador, replied, expressing hopes of the adjustment, the Cardinal rejoined, “God knows how much I desire this peace, for I swear to you by the communion which I took to-day for the jubilee, that I woud agree to make it, and then die; but this letter of the Duke of Alvas has not given me any hope, by so much the more as i hav enot received an answer to the despatch sent by me to the Duke of Florence, nor has the courier who took kit get made his appearance.”
Rome, 5th September 1557.


  • 1. See before, 20th July 1557.
  • 2. The title of Giovanni Caraffa before the Pope invested him with the Duchy of Paliano.
  • 3. Ráná de Lorraine, General of the Galleys of France. (See Foreign Calendar, “Mary,” Index.)
  • 4. The Duke of Parma and Cardinal Alessandro Farnese.
  • 5. A French canard. See Lingard's History of England, vol. 5, p. 253, ed. London, 1854; and Père Daniel, vol. 9, pp. 858 to 860.
  • 6. Alfonso Caraffa, the Pope's great nephew, and son of Marquis Montebello.
  • 7. The mission of Marc' Antonio Franceschi to the Duke of Alva, and its result, is recorded in Andrea Morosini's Venetian History, vol. 2, pp. 289–293. (Ed. Venezia, 1782.)
  • 8. After the recall of Peter Vannes, Don Francisco de Vargas was ambassador from Philip and Mary to the Republic of Venice.
  • 9. There was nothing pathetic in the letter, which merekly announced the intention of the Signory to send a secretary to the Duke of Alva.
  • 10. Il coltello della spada; probably the sharp edge of his sword, as a knife.
  • 11. See before, date 12th October 1556, and Foreign Calendar, “Mary,” p. 184.
  • 12. In the year 1537, Carlo Caraffa, then 21 years old, was in the service of the Emperor, whose commander, Alfonso de Avalos, Marquis del Vasto, then took Chieri, a place in Piedmont, near Turin, which circumstance gives the date of the future Cardinal's exploit then and there, long before his uncle gave him the red hat; and as he himself told the story, its veracity cannot be doubted. For dates, see Père Daniel, vol. 9, p. 489, and Cardella, vol. 4, p. 341.
  • 13. On the 4th or 6th March 1561, Cardinal Carlo Caraffa, then 45 years old, was strangled in Castelsantangelo by order of Pope Pius IV.