Venice: October 1557, 16-31

Pages 1343-1359

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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October 1557, 16–31

Oct. 16. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives. 1062. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
Cardinal Caraffa's departure has been delayed until now, the general opinion being that he waits for a reply from King Philip; other persons say that he awaits the embarkation of the Duke of Alva, to confer with his Excellency at Pisa, and with the Duke of Florence, who is also there, and yesterday morning Marquis Montebello told my secretary that they might possibly see the Duke of Alva when passing through Pisa. but that they had made no appointment together to that effect.
Another cause assigned to me for this delay by a person who can know the fact is that before he departs the Cardinal chooses to arrange affairs here in such a way that everything may depend upon him, distributing the chief employments (mettendo i governi) amongst various persons, so that no one may predominate, and depressing his brother the Duke of Paliano as much as he can. remembering that the last time, when not before the Pope's eyes, evil offices were performed against him, so that his Holiness became angry, and spoke to his right reverend Lordship rather resentfully, as I wrote at the time; and Cardinal Caraffa said to me that he thus ascertained how detrimental his absence from Rome had been to his interests. He has, however, obtained the pecuniary supply, and two sets (due mude) of his retinue have already been sent in advance.
To the charges brought against Cardinal Morone, his right reverend Lordship replies that he will confute them all, and he has given the interrogatories for the cross-examination of the witnesses, who are greatly opposed, for accusing him of such things as the most villanous maniac, still less an individual hitherto considered sane and good, would never have uttered; and there are also autograph letters of the Cardinal's to his Vicar at Modena, exhorting, praying, and commanding him to prosecute and persecute (a processare e perseguitare) certain heretics, who had the same opinions as those of which he is now accused. On the other hand his right reverend Lordship's case causes general fear for him. Nor will I omit to mention that in public consistory, when in the act of departure, the Cardinals Santa Fiore and Sermoneta being on either side of him, the Pope told them for the love of God to beware of making any Pope suspected of heresy, as it would be the final ruin of Christendom, and that they well knew the peril incurred in the past conclaves; that he would make such provision as he could to obviate such a thing as he was speaking of, an event to be expected within 100 years.
The Signor Ascanio Caracciolo has arrived here, having been sent by the Duke of Alva with the hackney and money to pay the tribute for the kingdom of Naples. On Thursday he had audience of the Pope. He is lodged in the house of the Cardinal “Camerlengo,” and will remain here until King Philip sends some other representative. Then yesterday in consistory his Holiness said that he intended to accept the tribute sent by the Duke of Alva; and as certain Cardinals had counselled him to accept it without the usual words, sine proiudicio camera apostolica, as owing to the present peace they were at any rate immaterial, his Holiness said that he would consent to this, but wished to have it well examined, whether by accepting it without those words any detriment would ensue to the said treasury; and having assigned this investigation to the Cardinals Medici, Puteo, and Saraceno, the consistory adjourned.
Rome, 16th October 1557.
Oct. 16. Deliberazioni Senato (Secreta), File No. 30. 1063. Motion made in the Senate by the Sages of the Council and the Sages for the Mainland, for a Letter to the Venetian Ambassador at Rome.
By letters from our governors of Brescia, dated the 12th instant, we are advised that the Bishop of that city, Cardinal Durante, is supposed to be at the point of death; so we, with the Senate, order you to obtain audience of the Pope, and to tell him in our name, that in the event of his Lordship's demise, we earnestly request His Holiness to maintain for us the favour granted us in the person of the Reverend Dom Alvise di Prioli by Julius III. It is important that in the city of Brescia, one of our chief fortresses, we should at all times have one of our noblemen and a confidential person for its bishop, such as the Reverend Prioli, which for many reasons, we cannot say of Cardinal Durante's nephew.
We therefore desire that Prioli do succeed to the said bishopric, and should the Pope say that he has suspicion of his religious opinions, you may tell him that we have held him to be a Catholic person and of good life, but that some one may have brought a false charge against' him, which he in person might easily confute. We pray the Pope to be pleased to ascertain the truth of this.
De litteris, 127; de non, 6; non sinceri, 1. Leeta Collegio existenti in Senatu.
Expulsis papalistis et affinibus Rdi. D. Aloisij Prioli.
Oct 17. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 1064. Michiel Surian, Venetian Ambassador with King Philip, to the Doge and Senate.
The King arrived here late this evening, having been expected two or three days sooner, but chose to amuse himself by hunting for a short time in this neighbourhood.
The determination formed by his Majesty to retire was not to much on account of the approaching winter season, which is unsuited to fresh undertakings, as because it has been heard that the French have mustered so many troops that they thought of attacking the King even in his fortresses (fin nelli sui forti); so this army being very weak, his advisers, and most especially Don Ferrante [Gonzaga], recommended him to withdraw before the French make any greater stir, as were they to come in his direction he could not give them battle with so small a force without great danger, and were he to delay his retreat until then it would not be to his honour, as it will be now that he has remained so long a time master of the field, the enemy never having dared to face him; so the King, who according to his custom defers to the opinion of his ministers almost in everything, has adhered to this sage counsel and returned hither to-day, und, cheerful, and full of glory, and to the universal satisfaction; and from what I hear his Majesty hitherto evinces, neither by word nor deed, any diminution of the graciousness and modesty which seemed to him no less natural before these victories, than pride and insolence in prosperity are indigenous to the rest of the Spanish nation.
After the King left Han, some French cavalry made a foray some distance beyond Cambrai in this direction, killing and wounding some of his Majesty's archers, and taking several baggage carts of personages of the court, including one of Secretary Vargas, containing several decrees made in the Council, though nothing of consequence has been lost, as Vargas, foreseeing the danger, took with him the few important papers of his office for their greater security. It is thus supposed that the French will now choose to take their share of pillage, which will be at the cost of private individuals, as his Majesty's places and these new fortresses are sufficiently garrisoned, and at Han, where they are still building, there is all the present army with the Duke of Savoy, the foot soldiers having agreed to serve the King during six months for four months' pay, the cavalry receiving six months' pay for eight months' service.
Brussels, 17th October 1557.
[Italian, partly in cipher; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
Oct. 18. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 1065. Giacomo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
In my letter of the 15th (fn. 1) I wrote that, although the Constable's wife (fn. 2) had obtained the safe-conduct to go and see his Excellency, she nevertheless did not depart, and this seemed to simply something of importance. It has now been told me, as a great secret, that after the Constable's imprisonment in the castle of Ghent, the Duchess of Lorraine likewise remained in that city, and having obtained permission to visit him at her pressure, her Excellency goes into the castle almost daily, slaying with him a long while, and she at length discussed with him the means for coming to some agreement between these two kings. Knowing that the Guises counselled and favoured the war, it being also credible that even at present they might do the like, both to continue in their first opinion and also to establish themselves in that supreme authority which they have exercised since the capture of the Constable; and, on the other hand, knowing that his Excellency has always favoured the peace, and that if in his power to induce King Henry to make some agreement, not only would he benefit this kingdom, but also greatly facilitate his own release, and might consequently prevent the house of Guise from radicating itself in its present very lofty position; she suggested to him the possibility of his coming to France to induce his Majesty to make the agreement, on condition of the Constable sending to Flanders, as hostages, his own son, M. de Montmorency, and his son-in-law, M. de la Trimouille. This proposal having arrived here, it seems to have filled the most Christian King with hope of some fair adjustment, and although he recalled M. de Montmorency from Amiens, and made him come here to the Court, where he arrived two days ago with the aforesaid M. de la Trimouille, I, nevertheless do not hear that any reply has been given as yet, but that they delay as a demonstration of dignity rather than from a wish to exclude the negotiation. Yesterday evening the Cardinal of Lorraine told the person who made the foregoing statement that within six weeks the Constable will be here; and this seems to be thè true cause of his wife not going to him.
Advices seem to have arrived here, that Sultan Soliman was about to make a fresh agreement with the King of the Romans, the reason being that he has discovered a plot formed by his younger son against the life of the elder one, so that very great enmity had arisen between them; and the Sultan being in ill health, he thinks it for his advanlage not to commence a fresh war at a time when, in the event of his death, his sons might revolt one against the other; in which case it is thought here, that the embassy of M. de la Vigne will prove fruitless, as the Sultan not sending forth an army, neither will his fleet put to sea.
Yesterday advices came from Scotland that the Queen [Regent] had built a fortress, to prevent the English from succouring Berwick (Berrich), and when they attempted to do so the Scots cut 2,000 of them to pieces; and that the Scottish troops had made several forays in the English territory, burning and sacking the whole territory on their line of march, which caused the people of England to rouse themselves, and to give their Queen greater assistance than they had done hitherto. It is also heard that the English determined at any rate again to attempt to succour Berwick, and that they were therefore pushing forward with the army, the Scots advancing to meet them, so that a battle was considered certain. Another report purports that the Admiral of England with twelve armed ships and a good number of troops went to one of the chief of the Orkney Isles, which profess allegiance to the Scots, and landed a certain amount of soldiery; whereupon the inhabitants of the island rose and cut them to pieces, and the Admiral is missing; other advices saying that his ships were shattered in a violent storm, and that many of them foundered.
Berbiglier [Polvilliers ?], the captain of the troops mentioned by me heretofore, has approached Bourg-en-Bresse, with the intention of laying siege to it, and has some 10,000 infantry with him and 2,000 horse; and 2,000 Frenchmen on their march from Piedmont have entered Lyons with the Vidame de Chartres, (fn. 3) together with 4,000 of the last levy of Switzers. At Macon, King Henry has another 3,000 Switzers and the 1,200 infantry who came with M. de Guise; and some 4,000 Germans who were to have come into these parts, being waylaid by Birboglier [Polvilliers ?], took the road through Switzerland; a messenger being also sent to meet M. d'Aumale with orders for him to remain at Lyons until the end of this stir.
It is also understood that in many places in Savoy, placards have been found in the streets, signed by the Duke of Savoy, inciting the inhabitants to free themselves from the tyranny of the King of France, and to resume their obedience to him their true and natural prince, declaring that should they not do so he would come with a very great force to recover his own, and that he would put the whole of that territory to fire and sword: notwithstanding which, no stir nor any commotion is heard of, save that at Geneva, a place under the protection of the Canton of Berne, a certain plot has been discovered, and some of the conspirators were put to death for it.
Nothing more is heard about the army of the King of Spain, and M. de Guise is still at Compiegn, but will be here in three or four days.
Poissy, 18th October 1557.
[Italian, partly in cipher; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini]
Oct. 22. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 1066. Michiel Surian, Venetian Ambassador with King Philip, to the Doge and Senate.
Having gone to the palace for entry into the King's apartment, I was met by Don Ruy Gomez, with singular graciousness and goodwill, and he kept me company whilst his Majesty was dressing. After the first complimentary greetings we commenced discussing his Majesty's victories, they being the most agreeable topics that can be broached with these Lords at present. During this conversation Don Ruy Gomez said that this great undertaking had been effected without experience, without troops, and without money; so the victory had been given not by men but by God (ma Dio), who favoured the goodness of this King and his just cause.
He then proceeded to speak about the peace with the Pope, recapitulating all that had taken place before his Lordship went to Spain, and especially the trust always placed by King Philip in your Serenity. He said that the French ambassador, then resident here, proposed that his King should refer all his disputes to your Serenity, and that he, Don Ruy Gomez, spoke immediately to King Philip, and then returned forthwith to the ambassador, telling him that his Majesty also would do the like, on hearing which, the said ambassador instantly turned the conversation, but his Majesty still remained of the same mind, and with the same good confidence, and would always continue so. When I told him that I had constantly assured your Serenity of this his Majesty's goodwill towards you, and universal quiet, his Lordship rejoined that I had written the truth and the results would show it. He then added that he was sorry to have at present to make war near your State that it was necessary to chastise (castigar) to use his precise words, that neighbour of ours [the Duke of Ferrara], and to teach him to know how to remain at peace. Shortly afterwards the Count de Feria also said the like to me. I merely answered them that I had always known the King to be prudent and good, and I believed that his Majesty would be so in this, and all his other acts. From what I can comprehend, Don Ruy Gomez and Count de Feria spoke to me thus, thinking perhaps that I had some order from your Serenity about this matter, as was generally reported by the whole of this Court. Another personage of great authority said to me that the King's chief doubt in this affair of the Duke [of Ferrara], is that of displeasing your Serenity; and that his Majesty is disposed to take him into farour if he asks pardon, but will choose him to give up something of his own, and if unable to obtain anything else, will insist on his dismantling Brescello, which is very near Parma and Cremona, so as to facilitate an attack upon them, and it does not at all secure the Duke's State, as it is remote and out of the way, so he ought not to make a difficulty about this, as it secures others and does him no harm. But the common opinion is that nothing can benefit the Duke more than your Serenity's authority, although, for his own respects, King Philip must wish to quiet any disturbance in Italy, so as to unite all his forces against France, should he be compelled to continue the war.
Brussels, 22nd October 1557.
[Italian, partly in cipher; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
Oct. 23. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives. 1067. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
Your Serenity's letters of the 16th instant were delivered to me last Tuesday at 7 p.m.; on Wednesday morning I sent to demand audience, which for a variety of reasons was delayed until to-day (Friday) at 1 p.m.
In reply to my congratulations offered in your Serenity's name on the peace, and to your hopes that it would lead to the general pacification of Christendom, his Holiness ended thus, “And if those princes [Philip II. and Henry II.] make peace through our medium, they will have cause to remain obliged to us and to you, and to respect this Holy See, and those Lords of Venice, who are the relics of Italian happiness; (fn. 4) most especially we having a good understanding together.” I rejoined, “Yes, Holy Father, it is salutary for the sovereigns, from the observance and reverence borne by the most serene Signory to your Holiness and to this See Apostolic, and from your paternal love evinced towards the Republic by fresh benefits and favours and by maintaining those already conceded, to infer an increase of goodwill between his Serenity and your Holiness; and the State, relying on this paternal love, and having before their eyes the security of the city of Brescia, being now informed of the serious illness of Cardinal Durante, (fn. 5) have commissioned me to pray your Holiness to be pleased to maintain the privilege (la grazia) conceded them by Julius III., that on Cardinal Durante's death, the bishopric of Brescia was to pass to the Reverend D. Luigi di Priuli,” (fn. 6) so that having one of your own noblemen in the See enjoying your confidence, you may remain with your mind at ease about that city, which is one of your principal fortresses, nor could the like be said of Cardinal Durante's nephew, on many accounts which when necessary would be made known to his Holiness. The Pope then interrupting me said, “Magnifico Ambassador! in like manner as we are ready to do whatever we can for the Signory. to the honour of God and of ourselves, so about this must nothing be said,' it is a thing done in consistory, and in the matter of 'accessi,' which we have repealed (i quali habbiamo revocati); nor do we choose any one, whether cardinal or prince, to hope for anything of the sort in our lifetime, as the term 'accesso' was a diabolical invention. In the days of our most holy fathers of the Church, have portenta verboram were never heard.” I then said to his Holiness. that if this term of “accesso” displeased him, he might find some other way to satisfy the most serene Signory. He replied, “You speak to me of a thing that is impossible, as besides the 'accessi' being diabolical inventions, we will tell you that we repealed them on account (ad istanza) (sic) of Priuli;” and placing his mouth to my ear. he added, “We must at any rate tell it you, he is a heretic.” I then said, “Holy Father, the most serene Signory and the whole city of Venice consider him a Catholic who leads a good life, and as he may possibly have been slandered by some one, I therefore beseech your Holiness not to deprive him of that bishopric, as it would be to condemn him before having cognisance of the charges, as he being present might confute them.”
The Pope rejoined. “We do not speak of a thing which we do not know for a certainty; we tell you that such is the fact (ch'è così) and that there are many in the College who know it, and that we have witnesses omni execptione majores, and we touch it with the hand (e che la toccamo con mano); he is of that accursed school, and of that apostate household (e di quella casa apostata) of the Cardinal of England. Why do you suppose we deprived him of the legation ? You will indeed see the end of it; we mean to proceed, and shall use our hands. Cardinal Pole was the master, and Cardinal Morone, whom we have in the Castle, is the disciple, although the disciple has become worse than the master. Priuli is upon a par with these (Il Priuli va al pari di questi) and with Marc' Antonio Flaminio, who were he not dead must have been burned; and we had his brother Cesare Flaminio burned in public at the Minerva. (fn. 7) The comrade and guest of Priuli was Galeazzo Caracciolo, son of the Marquis di Trivento our kinsman, for he is the son of a daughter of my sister who was here last year, and he has also a niece of ours for wife, he having left his father, his wife, and nine children, and about 6,000 crowns annual income, and has gone to live with those rogues at Geneva, losing both soul and body. Magnifico Ambassador! let us not speak about this matter, for were our father a heretic, we would carry the faggots to burn him (perchè se nostro padre fusse heretico portassamo le fascine per abruciarlo). Write to the Signory now that we are placed by God to have the care of the universal Church, that they be pleased for us to have the same care of it as was sanctioned by them when we were in a private capacity in that magnificent city, and reminded them so intrepidly of their welfare, persuading them to prosecute that Friar Galatteo, who at length died in prison, although he was released under pretence of indisposition; but as he then did worse than ever, going into the shops of the booksellers, apothecaries, and shoemakers, sowing his poison, the Signory was compelled again to have him seized, and he died in prison; and there having come into the little church of St. Nicholas a Chief of the Ten, whom we will not name, we had him driven out of it, he being told that he was excommunicated for not having done his duty against that heretic; (fn. 8) so that his Serenity will do well not to proceed in the matter, as cognisance of this case stinks in the nostrils. (fn. 9) For the honour of God we are willing to suffer any torment, and when we can do no more we will throw ourselves on the ground and submit to suffocation, but so long as we can walk, although lame and feeble, we will run on (correremo inanti). Rely on this and assure the most illustrious Signory, that whatever we can do for their benefit and honour, we will do as willingly and promptly as any of you yourselves, for we were so courteously received and looked on in your city that we consider ourselves your citizen, and were the opportunity to present itself, we should not wait to be prayed like a foreigner; and thus on the other hand we beseech his Sublimity, in a matter of greater value than the whole world, viz. the entireness (l'integrità) of the Catholic faith, to be content that we do our duty, to the honour of God, for the benefit of Christendom, and for the especial safety of your Republic.” I replied, “Holy Father, one of the indications of your love for those Lords, would be to give them as Bishop of Brescia, one of their noblemen in whom they trust, as they do in the Reverend Priuli.” His Holiness rejoined, “We have said that the grant of your demand is impossible; many of those Lords are obstinate and not very easily managed (e non molto buoni da cuocer), but in this business they must take patience, although Priuli is of the Doge's family, (fn. 10) for we well know your regards, and about your ballot-balls, but in like manner as you choose to have these worldly respects, allow us to have rospect for God.” I then added that I would write to your Sublimity what he had said to me, and took leave; it not seeming to me the moment for demonstrating how much your Sublimity has this matter at heart, nor would I let it appear that my demand for audience had been made solely on this account; the hour was also late, it being 5 p.m., and Cardinal Pacheco and the French ambassador were waiting.
Rome, 23rd October 1557.
Oct. 24. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 1068. Giacomo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Duke de Guise has returned from Compiegne, with Strozzi and the rest of the company who went thither for the cause written by me; and as I am told by a person who was present, and has very good means for heaving the resolves made by the said personages, together with the Duke de Nevers, M. de Termes, and the general of the artillery, M. d'Estries (fn. 11) they consalted about the fortifications to be raised, and first of all determined at any rate to continue those of Compiegne, and to raise there four bulwarks and a half (4 beloardi et mezzo) and a pontoon, as rendered necessary by the position of the place, and thus encircling it for nearly a mile and half They also determined to fortify Chauni, (fn. 12) which being between La Fère and Compiegne might serve as outwork to both those places, and thus form a semicircle, whose extremities would terminate towards St. Quentin and Han, and thus render their loss unimportant; but there is a difficulty about Chauni, the enemy having 4,000 infantry there and a good body of horse, and although they have burned it almost entirely and are not raising any fortifications, they still remain there, nor is it known what they intend to do; and until they depart this project cannot be effected, as by no means will the French dislodge them by force, to avoid bringing the enemy's army which is near at hand to defend it, and thus having to fight another battle; so for the present they will on no account attempt anything of the sort in this quarter, as all the fortresses being in very good condition, they will procrastinate, placing their hope in such advantage as may be afforded. They say that La Fère and Peronne have been rendered inexpugnable, but the friend who made this report to me is not of opinion that they rely exclusively on the building of fortresses, which would require much time and they gave it clearly to be understood, that in accordance with the decision previously made by the King, his Majesty will be compelled to raise so strong an army for next year, that it may enable him to attempt the recover of what he has lost. The troops are all in garrison on the frontiers and in other places, numbering about 35,000 infantry, besides those at Lyons and at Bourg-en-Bresse, the amount of cavalry being what I wrote heretofore; and they will all winter in their present quarters, it not being hitherto intended to take the field this winter, nor to attempt any real undertaking (nè tentare realmente impresa alcuna); nor at Compiegne, where the main body of the army is, are there more than 4,500 Germans, and 600 men-at-arms.
The aforesaid gentleman also told me, that in the course of their conference the said personages gave it largely to be understood that they are desirous of some adjustment chiefly from their wish for quiet after so many and such protracted fatigues (fatiche); which I have thought fit to tell your Serenity in detail.
Concerning the negotiation about the Constable, I heard subsequently, that the person who came hither for that purpose is one of his Excellency's servants who attends him in prison, and after having spoken at great length, alone (da solo a solo) with his most Christian Majesty, he was sent back without any decision; the King not having approved of the conditions attached (unite) to his Excelleney's release; nor have I been able to learn any other authentic particulars, but it is supposed that some fresh form will be devised for pursuing the treaty, although these lords of the house of Guise will not fail adroitly to thwart it, so that his Excellency's release may at least not take place so immediately, knowing how much it might diminish the autherity now held by them.
With regard to the retura to Rome of the Caraffa nephews, (fn. 13) the King told Flaminio da Stabia that he will consent to their going back, but chooses first of all to honour them as they deserve, assigning to them both becoming pecuniary supply (provisione) and paying the pensions assigned heretofore to their fathers, but then he being unable to despatch this matter so immediately, they must remain here in the mean while; and from what is heard, his Majesty will have them detained as long as he can by fair means, but should they insist strenuously he will at length let them go sooner, rather than come to an open rupture with the Pope.
The German troops who were near Bourg-en-Bresse have disbanded from want of money, and part of them, hearing that M. de Guise was preparing to march thither with his Majesty's forces, departed in such haste that they left their baggage, which became the booty of the French soldiers thereabouts.
The Canton of Berne evinces some intention of resenting the passage given to the said Germans by the Franche Comtè contrary to treaty, and to make more sure of the fact, the Canton sent an ambassador to the spot, to know the road, taken by them. From what the said ambassador told a friend of mine who met him on the way, he takes back word to his masters that the said troops passed through the Franche Comté, and that therefore the treaty is broken. He told him besides that the said burgomasters (signori) of Berne have a mind to invade the said Franche Comté, provided his most Christian Majesty will accommodate them with earalry and contribute half of the cost, dividing subsequently the conquered territory between them.
A few days ago a gentleman in the service of the Duke de Guise went out of Guise with some 15 (sic) cavalry, and, advancing about 20 leagues into the enemy's country fell in with Don Ferrante Gonzaga, who with a few followers was going to Cambrai, and captured him, but on the way to Guise with his prisoner, being pursued by a band of cavalry, after rifling his Excellency they set him at liberty and got safe back to Guise; but afterwards M. de Bourdillon, (fn. 14) having gone out of La Fère, took a good part of his baggage. routing also 200 pistolers (pistoletti), and doing much damage to the victuals and troops of the King of Spain on their way from St. Quentin to Han. (fn. 15) Yesterday evening there was brought to the King a purple velvet gown, richly embroidered with the arms and plumes (le arme et penaechi) of a Spanish grandee, name unknown, who was killed by Bourdillon's troops. Don Francesco of Este, (fn. 16) whose arrival here was announced by me, had not made any previous agreement with the King, in whose hands he placed himself, praying his Majesty to have such consideration as becoming for his honour and interests, and it is said that the King will make him a Knight of St. Michael, and make suitable pecuniary provision for him. There have also arrived Paulo Orsini and Mario Santafiore, to serve his Majesty on this present occasion.
Poissy, 24th October 1557.
[Italian, partly in cipher; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
Oct. 24. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 1069. Michiel Surian, Venetian Ambassador with King Philip, to the Doge and Senate.
The only intelligence about the affairs of the confines and of the army, is that yesterday a general proclamation was issued here for all the soldiers to go immediately to the camp, under very heavy penalties, this being done so that they may all go to the quarters appointed them. Don Ferrante [Gonzaga] told me that the French had already greatly reinforced themselves, and were still continuing to do so, it being apparently their intention to prevent these fortifications, though as yet they are not heard to have moved, perhaps because their troops are for the most part useless, having been raised tumultuously (tumultuariamente) from the national militia (delle ordinance del Regno). This is quite certain, that a few Spaniards still remain in Chauni without being molested, but the place is not strong, and orders have been given to fortify it, so soon as Han is rendered defensible. When the Council determined on the King's retreat, his Majesty was told that nothing more could be done this year, because the season was far advanced, and the army weakened by deaths, sickness, and deserters. He replied angrily, “Yes, at present, nothing else can be done, but at first much might have been accomplished;” and he evinced regret (e mostró dolersi) at their not having gone to Compiegne as counselled by Don Ferrante [Gonzaga]. His Majesty believes that then that place would have been easily occupied, as it was not strong, nor is it, although the French subsequently made a trench, in which they merely quarter the army. Thus do the affairs at these frontiers proceed; whilst here at Brussels, since the King's arrival, the States have been called to provide money, and to remedy the high price of victuals, which is so exorbitant that it could not be greater had the place been besieged for a year, and foreigners are the chief sufferers, being compelled to purchase everything to their disadvantage.
Cardinal Caraffa and the Cardinal of Trent are expected here, this latter having had a pension of 10,000 crowns on the archbishopric of Toledo, and the Cardinal of Augsburg has had 5,000 crowns assigned him in like manner.
The Duke of Alva is also coming to exculpate himself from the charges brought against him, and to complain of being daily deprived of his authority, first by their making a governor of Milan, then by giving away one appointment and another, all which things appertained to him in virtue of the authority he received, which is so ample that the King cannot have greater; so the Duke considers himself aggrieved, and his adherents therefore say that he is come to obtain the observance of his privileges, and if denied him he will resign and go to Spain. So say his adherents but I am assured by persons in authority who have seats in the council chamber (che enirano nelli consegli), that the Duke has not given satisfaction, and that he will easily (facilmente) be deprived of the government; it being also hinted to me that the Count de Feria, will be sent to Naples, and Don Juan Manrique to Milan; and that Don Ruy Gomez intends to rule alone, with Don Ferrante [Gonzaga], puttinghim in charge of the affairs of the war, and keeping the rest for himself. The Bishop of Arras [Antoine de Granvelle], who was much favoured in the camp, it being supposed that he would recover his former high station, has returned to his bounds (è ritornato nelli sui termini) since the arrival of Don Ruy Gomez. The ambassador from Genoa, who came to urge the King to repeal the decree made in Spain about the assignments given to the merchants for the moneys had from them, is returning to Italy, nor has he been able to obtain what he wished.
The ambassador from Florence is intent on soliciting the expedition of the privilege for the cession of Sienna (la espeditione del privilegio della cessione di Siena), and that Duke renders himself more and more suspected daily; and now again by having so long delayed to send his troops against the Duke of Ferraro, and for having sent such as are of little use, and for protracting their payment, and because, in addition to this, he is drawing up a sort of process against the Cardinal of Burgos, who was in Sienna; thus giving occasion to those who favoured him to proceed more coldly than before about his affairs.
There are advices from England that the Scots entered England in the direction of Wark, and the English are marching against them with a numerous force.
Brussels, 24th October 1557.
[Italian, partly in cipher, the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
Oct. 27. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 1070. Giacomo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
After my letter of the 24th the King determined that M. de Guise should go to Compiegne on the 2nd of next month with Marshal Strozzi and M. de Termes, the chief cause of this despatch bring to put troops in Chauni and to fortify it, it being heard that the troops of the King of England are retiring, and particularly from that place; for which purpose they will draft a certain number from the fortresses, always with the intention of undertaking some other enterprise should the opportunity present itself. After despatching this business his Excellency will discharge a certain number of troops, in proposition to those disbanded by the enemy, whereas, had they kept the whole army on foot, he also would have done the like. Don Francesco da Este will be made a knight of the Order, and have the command of 50 men-at-arms, for which he apparently demands 10,000 crowns stipend, he having been offered hitherto, in the King's name, 6,000, which it is thought will be adjusted with 8,000; and M. de Montluc (fn. 17) having had leave to return from his government of Mont' Alcino, it is thought that Don Francesco will replace him. Paulo Orsini has prayed the King to continue his good offices for the release of the Count of Pitigliano, about which his Majesty has shown himself so very anxious that he announced the intention of not allowing the Caraffa nephews to depart hence until the said Count shall be at liberty.
Poissy, 27th October 1557.
[Italian, partly in cipher; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
Oct. 30. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 1071. Michiel Surian, Venetian Ambassador with King Philip, to the Doge and Senate.
The King has been rather indisposed lately, having hurt his leg when boar hunting, but the injury is slight, and does not prevent him from transacting business, although he lives rather cautiously. Don Ferrante [Gonzaga] has been very dangerously ill; he had a relapse to-day, and the physicians are of opinion that if he remains in these provinces he will die here. Should he absent himself, it will be very detrimental to King Philip, and highly advantageous for the French, as it is perfectly true that no one else at this Court understands war; and although the Duke of Savoy goes gaining authority for himself (si va acquistando autorità), he has as yet neither sufficient valour nor ability (nè valor nè ingegno tale) to sustain so great an undertaking. His Excellency and Don Bernardino de Mendoza are accused of obstinately insisting on battering St. Quentin on its strongest side, contrary to the advice of the said Don Ferrante, who was at length forced to consent to raise a new battery as written by me at the time, thus delaying the capture of the place, and consequently preventing the advance of the army to make greater conquests, to the displeasure of the King, who on the other hand very greatly favours Don Ferrante, so that his enemies, who commenced recovering their repute, are again downcast (bassi). Don Ruy Gomez, in like manner as he is more than ever in favour with the King, so does he favour Don Ferrante's interests more than ever, and to say all in one word, these two personages are those who rule everything, and the Count de Feria (who seemed at first to be of another league) is doing all he can to join them, and he may possibly succeed (et li potrà venire fatto) should he choose to yield to Don Ruy Gomez, and depend on him entirely, as seems to be his intention. In case the Duke of Alva come hither as reported, the less favour will he find, and I am assured on good authority, that if he comes he will no longer return to Italy with his present authority, nor can he in honour go back with less, but will necessarily determine to pass his life in Spain. His adherents having warned him of this, he will probably not come hither so soon, and not coming the King bears him such great respect, that he will not make any change to his detriment (non ferà niuna novità contra di lui).
The Cardinal of Trent is expected here at the end of next month, but as yet no advice has been received of Cardinal Caraffa's departure from Rome, though an apartment has been prepared for him in the palace of M. de Lalain, (fn. 18) which is a noble building (un palazzo honorato), and near the Court. It was proposed in Council to lodge his right reverend Lordship in the royal palace, because the King of France did so last year, but it was decided negatively, so as not to introduce this custom, which the Emperor always avoided. As yet no ambassador has been appointed to Rome, and the cause of this seems to be, that some persons are suspicious of the Pope's mind, about which the ambassador from Florence speaks in such a way that he seems to have had advices from his Duke, purporting that what his Holiness has done hitherto is entirely feigned (tutto finto), by the advice of the French for their own interests.
Brussels, 30th October 1557.
[Italian, partly in cipher; the portion in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
Oct. 31. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 1072. Michiel Surian, Venetian Ambassador with King Philip, to the Doge and Senate.
Advices having been received lately that his Majesty's troops were disbanding from the camp, wandering here and there to avoid the cold and inconveniences of the winter season, it has been determined to discharge such part of them as are unnecessary, and merely to retain the number required for the custody of the frontiers, thus saving the great cost which would otherwise have been incurred for the maintenance of so large a force during this winter, which is very opportune, as at present King Philip does not possess, nor can he find, sufficient sums of money for his expenditure in so many quarters. These Slates have been convoked to furnish pecuniary supply, but the utmost that can be got from them cannot exceed one million of florins (equal to 500,000 crowns), which sum is required for his Majesty's ordinary household expenditure, and that of the Court here and in England, whither according to report he will go for Christmas at the latest; so to keep so large an army in his pay for such a period would be a useless and insupportable burden. The Duke of Savoy is therefore expected here in the middle of next month, when it is believed that the fortress of Han will be in a state to defend itself, as King Philip's bulwark (so called because his Majesty himself superintended its erection) is at length completed. It is true with regard to the other bulwarks, that the one of the Duke of Savoy is not much raised, and that of M. de Glasson still less, but the engineers continue working.
As to what the French are doing, the most accredited advices are that they have discharged a great part of their troops, and that the most Christian King is indisposed. The French for the present year are expected to limit themselves to forays, which they make daily, to the detriment of a few luckless individuals.
King Philip will remain in these parts with only the frontier garrisons and the local militia (et con le gente ordinarie del paese), but in Burgundy he has well nigh a regular army (ha quasi un giusto essercito), and in Italy, besides the forces attacking the Duke of Ferrara, he must provide for the Milanese, where his Majesty owes the troops 400,000 crowns, so that the soldiery there live at discretion, to the utter ruin of that province; and the inhabitants might be relieved from such great wrongs with 250,000 crowns, for it is said those soldiers would be content with that amount in ready money, although infinitely less than their due; but the government here (questi Signori) would wish the Milanese to try and obtain that sum from the duchy itself, either by loan or in some other way, though they are assured that this is impossible, and that the funds must be raised here, as the Milanese is burdened beyond measure. Then have written about this to the Duke of Alva, whose reply they await, and in the meanwhile no remedy is applied for the evil, nor for the danger to which that territory is exposed by the discontent of the population, and the vicinity of the enemy.
The Indian fleet has arrived at Seville with two millions of gold, of which 800,000 are said to belong to the King, and the rest to private individuals, but I am assured that his Majesty has not more than 400,000 on his own account (di sua ragione), but thinks of making use of the entire sum by giving the merchants assignments (assegnamenti), thus causing them all to clamour, as they suspect that in the course of time the assignments will be withdrawn, as was done lately by others. The Genoese, who are so greatly interested in the matter, sent an ambassador (un suo ambassator), who proved to his Majesty that this proposal destroys both their property and credit, yet he could obtain nothing but fair words, the matter being referred for better revisal (ad esser meglio revista) to the Council of Spain, so that he departed very dissatisfied. It is said for certain that this breach of promise will render it difficult for the King to obtain money in his present great need, and that the other merchants who trade in the Indies will no longer allow their property (avere) to go to Spain, but will have it landed in Portugal, where they think it will be safer; so it is believed that in order to obtain pecuniary supply, his Majesty must give the merchants satisfaction.
The Admiral of France [Gaspar de Coligny], now prisoner in a castle beyond Bruges, near the sea, is seriously indisposed, and being very melancholy and in a place where most especially at this season the air is most unwholesome, he may very probably never return to France. The universal hatred borne him is incredible, the rupture of the truce being attributed to him; all persons who have been prisoners in France accusing him also of cruelty, avarice, and baseness (di cradeltà, di avaritia, et di villania), by reason of the shameful way in which he treated them.
To-day Don Ferrante Gonzaga seemed better, but he had another relapse this evening.
Brussels, 31st October 1557.
[Italian, partly in cipher; the portion in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]


  • 1. Not found.
  • 2. In the “Nouvelle Biographic Gènèrale” vol. 36, p. 347 (ed. Paris, 1861), it is seen that the Constable's wife was Madeleine de Savoie. She descended from Rènèe of Savoy, and Villars, Count of Tenda, natural son of Philip Duke of Savoy. (See Biographical Dictionary (Bassano), name “Tenda.”)
  • 3. Francis de Vendome. (See the late Sir William Hackett's Index to Foreign Calendar, “Mary.”)
  • 4. Che sono le reliquie del “bene” d'Italia. The Pope probably meant “nationality,” in allusion to the times when the kingdom of Naples and the Milanese were ruled by native princes.
  • 5. Durante de' Duranti, elected Bishop of Brescia by Julius Ill., in the year 1551 (See Cardella, vol. 4, p. 267.)
  • 6. Repeated mention has been made of this Venetian nobleman in volumes v. and vi., Venetian Calendar. His name is written either Priolo or Priuli, and Alvise or Luigi; and in vol. v., p. 335, there is the account of his appointment as Bishop designate of Brescia. He and Cardinal Morone were both persecuted by Paul IV. on account of their intimate friendship with Cardinal Pole.
  • 7. E noi habbiamo fatto obbrugiare nella Minerva in publico.
  • 8. E noi, sendo venuto nella chiesiola di S. Nieolo un Capo di X., che non vogliamo nominare, lo taecssimo cacciar di chieso con dire che l' era scomunicato per non haver fatto il debito suo contra quel heretieo.” The church of St Nicholas was officiated by the “Theatins,” of which order Gian I'etro Caraffa was one of the chief founders. He was much at Venice from 1527 to 1536, and in that particular church his jurisdiction seems to have been illimited.
  • 9. In the original “questa cognitione che SPEPTA,” this last word being apparendy a mistake for puzza or spuzzu as in the Venetian dialect.
  • 10. In October 1557, the reigning Doge was Lorenzo Priuli.
  • 11. Jean Sieur d'Estrées. (See the late Sir William Hackea's Index to Foreign Calendar, “Mary.”)
  • 12. These particulars would make it appear that at the end of October 1557, the Duke de Guise had no intention of attacking Calais.
  • 13. Namely, Marquis Cava, son of the Duke of Paliano, and the son of Marquis Montebello, the Duke's younger brother.
  • 14. Imbert de la Platiere. (See the late Sir William Hackett's Index to Foreign Calendar, Mary.)
  • 15. On the 17th October, Surian wrote from Brussels that some French foragers had killed some of King Philip's archers, taking also some baggage waggons, but nothing is said about the capture of Ferrante Gonzaga, who on the 30th October was ill at Brussels, where he died on the 15th November 1557.
  • 16. Francesco d'Este, Marquis of Massa and Padula. (See the late Sir William Hackett's Index, as above.
  • 17. Blaise de Montesquieu. (See the late Sir William Hackett's Index to Foreign Calendar, Mary.)
  • 18. Charles, Comte de Lalain. (See the late Sir William Hackett's Index to Foreign Calendar, Mary.)