Venice: May 1556, 1-5

Pages 424-441

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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May 1556, 1–5

May 1. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 467. Giacomo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Lord Clinton has had audience of the King, whom he congratulated in the name of the Queen of England on the truce, and then offered all her power as mediatrix for the peace between the Emperor and his son, and his most Christian Majesty, who replied in gracious and becoming language, and with regard to treating about peace, said that as hitherto he had not failed to draw nigh to it (accostarsi), so would he do for the future, and should always be glad of her Majesty's mediation, for whose sake he would not fail to do much more than for any other mediator. I will not omit to mention the assurance given me on good authority, that, although his most Christian Majesty will not refuse such fair terms of peace as shall be proposed to him, yet will he not enter upon any negotiation until the release of the prisoners be settled, about whom, as the Imperial ambassador appointed to this court is expected here to-morrow, some further decision will be formed than has been made hitherto.
At a subsequent audience, Lord Clinton told the King that his Queen knew that the security enjoyed in this kingdom by her rebels encouraged others to meditate fresh disturbances, wherefore it would be well for him to make some demonstration against them, and by so much the more as in the agreement between these two kingdoms the rebels of the one were not to be secure in the other. To this the King answered him that his kingdom was so large and free to every one, that he could not know so particularly either who entered it, nor who went out of it, but that he heard with regret of the commotions in England; notwithstanding which since several days, there are several Englishmen here at the court, who were subsequently outlawed from England (li qual poi sono stati banditi d' Inghilterra), and are said to have come to ask favour from his most Christian Majesty. (fn. 1) The said Lord Clinton departed on the day before yesterday, the King having given him a chain worth a thousand crowns; nor did I omit to visit him in your Serenity's name, I myself having also known him very well, and I performed such office with him as the occasion required.
Advices from Rome announce the Pope's resolve to send Legates to the Emperor and to his most serene son, and also to his most Christian Majesty, to negotiate the peace, and that Cardinal Caraffa will come hither.
Blois, 1st May 1556.
[Italian, partly in cipher; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
1 May. Original Letter Book penes me. Letter No. 75, pp. 251, 252. 468. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador at Rome. to the Doge and Senate.
Yesterday, after he had dined, the Pope came into the audience chamber, where I was with the Count of Montorio; his Holiness said, “We have commissioned our Legates to negotiate our cause, no less than that of the most serene Republic, and even more, for we require nothing whatever from those Princes and the others, whom we choose to have as our subjects and not for equals. (fn. 2) We choose the legates to go, although the negotiation for peace is not so far advanced as was thought, that they may ascertain what the Powers think of doing, and we shall know how to regulate ourselves. You have seen how, with God's assistance, we have placed these Imperialists at a distance, and humbled their pride. We have the heart to punish both of them should they give us cause. The King of France is an obedient son, and when we have occasionally denied his requests he took it quietly and obeyed us. The Emperor on the other hand chose to stand upon his grandeur, so we were compelled to show our teeth, for the honour of this Holy See and of Italy; we will never fail to do our duty, even at the cost of our life; because this charge having been given us by the goodness of God, it is necessary that there be done by us what we heretofore urged our predecessors to do, nor do we fear any lack of men or money. You have seen our fine infantry and cavalry, and you must know that we can very easily muster 20,000 foot, by means of our good regulations, and those of our nephews.” And here he dilated in praise of them, saying he was sorry to deprive himself of the Cardinal, to which I replied that the Cardinal was able, prudent, and good, but that the Count remained with him, so that he might say, “uno evulso non deficit alter aureus.” The Pope rejoined, “We consider them such, and were they of another sort, even if our sons and not our nephews, we would kick them out of doors,” to use his Holiness' own words, as I endeavour to do always. (fn. 3)
The Count seemed very much pleased with this conversation, to which the Pope added, “To return to the affair of the peace, we have not much hope, unless the necessity which led them to make the truce lead them to make peace, for they made the truce under compulsion, we by our rigour inducing them to do so; wherefore it is not to be wondered at, should they continue it, for according to physicians quœ approssimata juvant continuata sanant. We think they wish for peace, but neither of them will be the first to ask it. A mediator is required, and who could be a more fitting one than us, who are their father and lord? We will tell you the causes which move us to send the Legates, in order that if those most sage lords should not think it well to do so, they may give us counsel, as we will listen to it willingly, and if good (as we choose to believe) we will accept it, as in truth we have always allowed ourselves to be moved by reason, and on hearing an opinion better than our own we have followed it joyfully, nor did we act like some persons, who, when they have lost their opinion, go to supper with a bad appetite.”
Rome, 1st May 1556.
May 2. Original Letter Book, penes me. Letter No. 78, pp. 256–259. 469. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
The Cardinal of Tournon has received letters from France dated the 12th ulto. that the truce continued with marks of great good will on the part of the kings, so it may be expected to last the whole of the time, and that at this commencement it was undesirable to make any alteration by means of peace. He also says that the French noblemen who kissed the Emperor's hand found his frame very wasted and in a bad way; but that his mind was in a very good state, and that the inquiries which he made of them and his replies were most discreet. These letters, and others from the Imperial court dated the 12th and 19th, which do not speak of the peace, have caused the Pope to delay the despatch of the Legates; and a great personage writes in cipher from France that the Constable took it amiss that the Admiral did not greatly resent the Emperor's reply to him when he said that then it was not the time to release the prisoners, the intention being to assign their ransom at the end of three months, but not to release them; and that the Constable exclaimed that this might cause the rupture of the truce. The Duke of Ferrara has been angry by reason of the non-performance of the promise made him, but the matter was subsequently adjusted; the Imperialists consider that the Duke has an understanding with the King of France, stipulated by the Cardinal of Lorraine.
The Imperial ambassador, perceiving the Pope's firm resolve no longer to negotiate with him, has determined to send to the court [at Brussels] his brother Don Rodrigo, who departed at a late hour yesterday; and by reason of the favour which, as a Portuguese, he (the ambassador) enjoys with Don Ruy Gomez, he will do whatever he pleases at that court, and if removed hence he will be given some honorable appointment; nor will they, perhaps, give him any successor of rank.
The court here doubts greatly whether either of the Legates will go on their legation; but I refer myself to what the Pope told me with his own lips; the Count of Montorio having also told me that his brother would depart on the 11th instant. Some persons moreover say that Cardinal Caraffa will go alone, first to France, and then to the Emperor, to avoid sending another person so much his inferior in every respect, with the suspicion of his not being admitted. What I can say is, that Cardinal Caraffa is quite ready, in very pompous array; and that Motula (I do not yet call him Pisa) has not received so much as one single ducat, although he has provided what is required for his journey on his own account, to the value of about 3000 crowns.
To-day, an accident occurred which may increase the Pope's anger against the Imperial ambassador. The catch-poles arrested a poor man in front of his house, whereupon some of Marquis Sarria's attendants released him. The catch-poles reinforced themselves, and, laying in wait for some of his household, seized five of them when they came forth, although none of them had been present at the rescue, which has greatly troubled the ambassador and his friends.
Rome, 2nd May 1556.
May 3. MS. St. Mark's Library, Cod. xxiv. Cl. x. 470. Cardinal Pole to Pope Paul IV.
The Abbot of San Saluto, of whom Pole has availed himselfduring many years much to his satisfaction, for the public service, and lately in the affair of the peace, is returning now to Rome, and Pole thinks it fitting to give this testimonial of him to the Pope, kissing his Holiness' feet. The Abbot will give the Pope, should he please, more particular account of that matter, and Pole has charged him also, should he meet Cardinal Caraffa on the road, to do the like by his lordship. It remains for him to beseech the Pope to be gracious to Parpaglia and to favour him in whatever he may require, shewing that he has valued the services rendered by him in Pole's company to his Holiness and the Apostolic See.
London, 3rd May 1556.
May 3? (fn. 4) MS. St. Mark's Library, Cod. xxiv. Cl. x. 471. Cardinal Pole to Cardinal Morone.
Has thought it opportune to send the decrees passed here [in the synod] to the Pope by their [confidant] Messer Marianno Vittorio, who will be able to give detailed account of them, and of whatever else may be necessary, to his Holiness, communicating everything in the first place to Morone, that he may be guided by his loving and prudent advice in everything. Of Vittorio himself Pole will say nothing farther, being aware that Morone knows him very well, and by reason of his goodness and virtue loves and esteems him, as Pole has done always.
[London, 3rd May 1556?]
May 3? (fn. 5) MS. St. Mark's Library, Cod. xxiv. Cl. x. 472. Cardinal Pole to Cardinal [Carlo] Caraffa.
By his attendant Messer Marianno Vittorio, the bearer of this letter, is sending to the Pope the decrees passed in the synod, and particular information about what relates to the affairs of the religion in England, with which he is well acquainted, and as Pole is writing to the Pope on the subject, it is unnecessary for him to say more about it to Caraffa.
[From London, 3rd May 1556?]
May 3. MS. St. Mark's Library, Cod. xxiv. Cl. x. pp. 168–174. 473. Marco Antonio Faitta (fn. 6) to Ippolito Chizzola Doctor in Divinity. (fn. 7)
Through the return to Italy of “our” Messer Michiel (fn. 8) I give detailed account of events here, and of the well being of his most illustrious and right reverend Lordship [Pole], our common master, who was ordained a presbyter on the 20th of last [March] and consecrated on the 22nd, with the intention of making his entry into Canterbury, and receiving the pallium in the cathedral there, on the feast of the Annunciation; but for certain reasons this proposed intention not seeming fit to the most serene Queen, his right reverend Lordship determined to take it in London in one of the principal churches of his diocese; so on Lady-day (il di della Annunciata) [25th March], being accompanied by many lords and barons, and by some members of the Council, he went to a church called St. Mary of the Arches, where shortly after his entry its parishioners presented him with a paper praying that his right reverend Lordship would deign to commence (si contentasse di cominciar) by giving some spiritual food to those souls which God had committed to his charge; wherefore on the conclusion of the ceremonies, and after receiving the pallium, thus unprepared, his right reverend Lordship determined to salute his congregation briefly, as follows:—
“On my present coming into this church for the purpose which I had given orders to have explained to you, by means of a sermon to be delivered by a person learned and from long experience very suited to his office, its parishioners presented me with a paper praying me with great earnestness and affection to perform this act in person, and to commence by tendering spiritual food to those souls committed to my care. I have not only resolved not to deny a demand so just, but have even derived the greatest consolation thence, remembering that in the whole course of my life none of my actions have ever yielded me greater satisfaction than such as tended to the honour and glory of God, to which His Divine Majesty vouchsafed to call me, in like manner as on this present occasion, by feeding the souls of those committed to my charge; amongst whom there may perhaps be some who will listen to me rather from curiosity, or to comment on what I say, and to such I shall observe that any other learned and elegant scholar might satisfy them vastly better than I can (qualunque altro dotto et elegante homo potrà di gran longo meglio de me sadisfar). But there may also be some who will listen to me for the mere fame (per mera fama) of the Word of God, and these I am ready to satisfy, nor will I ever suffer that from any defect of mine there be applied to me those words of holy writ concerning the people of Israel—
'Parvuli petierunt panem et non erat qui eis frangeret.' (fn. 9)
Neither will I imitate those masters who, eating white bread, give black and unsifted to their servants. I shall give to you the same that I myself am used to eat, and this bread is nothing but the Word of God, which, received in the form and sense wherein it is offered, produces miraculous effects, and bears the fruit of life for him who embraces it, and, as it is written—
'Tamquam imber qui descendet de cœlo, et illuc ultra non revertitur, sed inebriat terram et infundit eam, et germinare eam facit.'” (fn. 10)
Alluding then to the cause of his coming he said,—
“You must know that the cause of my coming to England was induced by my having been appointed Legate many months since, by the holiness of the Pope, who is Christ's vicar, and the supreme head of His church upon earth, for the sake of reconciling this kingdom to God, from whom it had so miserably severed itself, like a limb from its head, and to bring it back to the unity of the church and to the obedience of the Apostolic See (et ridurlo alla unità della chiesa et obedientia della Sede A postolica). At present I am again sent as Legate to this church of Canterbury in particular, and to all those dependent on its diocese. As this is the first time of my entering any church subject to my care, I imagine that you will not expect of me any other sermon or discourse, since I merely came to take the archiepiscopal pallium, which I purposed receiving in the principal church of my diocese, and gave orders accordingly, but being prevented on several accounts I was compelled to receive the investiture here, and as on the first entry of anyone into any place it is usual to salute the bystanders, so also shall I do, saluting you in the manner taught by Jesus Christ to his apostles, to whom he said—
'In quameumque domum intraveritis, dicite, Pax huic domui.'
And thus saluting you with all affection and charity I say to you peace be unto you, peace to ye men and women, peace to ye old and young, and to every description of person here present be there peace. Christ taught this form of salutation to his apostles, in order that into whatever house they entered they might give it that peace (acciò che in ciascuna casa che entrassero li dessero deta pace), and finding therein the children of peace, peace might rest thereon. And so likewise here, should there be the children of peace, the peace of God, in which consists all the happiness that man can desire or imagine, will remain with them, and this is that peace which not only gives quiet to man on earth, but, moreover, ineffable joy to the angels in heaven, who, manifesting to the world the counsel of God and the approach of peace (essi manifestandosi il consiglio di Dio et approssimandosi la pace al mondo), that is to say, Jesus Christ the blessed, commenced singing with so much joy and rejoicing (con tanta gioia e giubilo)—
'Gloria in excelsis Deo, et in terra pax hominibus bonæ voluntatis.'”
Proceeding then to explain the ceremony and signification of the pallium, he said that—
“So long ago as in the time of the primitive church, when anyone was consecrated as archbishop, by which consecration a power was conferred of such a nature as to be supreme after that of Christ's vicar on earth, yet it was not lawful to exercise such power until after having received this pallium, which being taken from the body of St. Peter and placed on the archbishop elect, merely signified that as his power and authority proceeded from that body, so likewise in all his actions he was bound to render a corresponding obedience, like that of members to their head. Thus our holy mother church, ever guided by the Holy Spirit, ordained this ceremony, lest the archbishops, having such great authority and detaching themselves from their head, might cause much turmoil and disorder in the church, instead of acknowledging this power as held neither of themselves nor of others, but solely of Christ's vicar, who is the Roman Pontiff, so that by this regulation (questo ordine) the unity of the church might be preserved for ever. And though in byegone times it was greatly disturbed by certain archbishops and patriarchs, it has nevertheless been seen for a notable example that those who acted thus, together with the countries committed to their government, have been by God most severely punished, as were the patriarchs of Constantinople and of Alexandria, who, having strayed and separated themselves from this unity, passed by the just judgment of God under the cruel tyranny and insupportable yoke of the Turks, under which they exist so miserably for so long a while, as is notorious to everybody. The Archbishop of Ravenna in like manner of yore greatly opposed this unity, but at length perceiving his error was reconciled to and rejoined this head. Thus then an archbishop cannot exercise the power given him by the act of consecration until he receive authority to do so by means of this pallium, taken as I have said from the body of St. Peter, and transmitted to him by Christ's vicar.
“They are now-a-days made of lambs' wool, the pallia being consecrated by placing them near the body of St. Peter, and they are afterwards forwarded to such as have been consecrated as arch-bishops. They are made of this lowly material as a contrast to the rich ornaments of gold and jewels usually worn by archbishops, and in the form of a cross, to let them understand that all the power and authority given them by Christ's vicar proceeds and is derived from the source of that immaculate Lamb (dal fonte di quell' immaculato Agnello), of which is written in the Apocalypse—
'Dignus est Agnus qui occisus est accipere virtutem et honorem et gloriam.'
“The archbishops then, being invested with this pallium made of the wool of lambs and in the form of a cross, ought at the same time to array themselves in humility, in charity, and in patience, and take up the cross, and be ever ready in need, to peril their own lives for the salvation of their flocks, and by all their actions pray that immaculate Lamb,
'In quo sunt omnes thesauri sapientiæ Dei absconditi,'
for the gift of prudence and of good government, both of themselves and of those committed to their care.”
And here his right reverend Lordship returned again to his comments on peace, which he said it was impossible for anyone ever utterly to explain or understand, comparing it to the hidden manna,
“Quod nemo scit, nisi qui accipit,”
and in which alone he said consisted true human felicity; and he added—
“Think not either that the science of philosophers, or the wealth of the rich, or the honours and pleasures of the great, form this their peace and true felicity, as was clearly seen by the example of Solomon, he being so favoured of God, of whom he asked, to enable him to rule his people rightly (per poter ben governar il suo popolo), the gift of wisdom and the power to discern the truth when giving his judgments, all which was conceded to him by God, who moreover in addition gave him greater riches than had ever been possessed by any other king. Besides this, Solomon tasted all the greatest pleasures that man can enjoy in this world, and yet at the end he said openly that all was but vanity and vexation of spirit.”
His right reverend Lordship then continued, that so far were philosophers from obtaining peace of any sort from human science, that he qualified their occupations as the worst possible, adding that true peace and felicity consisted in the fear of God and in the execution of His holy commandments, and that this peace therefore resembled neither that of science nor of any other sort of ability (o altra sorte di virtu), or that of honour, or of riches, or of pleasure, of which poor men and those of low estate cannot partake. This peace is common as well to the ignorant and unlearned as to the sage and skilful, to the poor as to the rich, to the ignoble as to the noble, to man as to woman, to youth as to age, and to every condition of person, provided it be received with simplicity when offered. Neither is any labour required for its search, peace itself having spontaneously descended from Heaven (essendo da se stessa venuta la pace), namely Jesus Christ the blessed, to die and sacrifice himself for our sins and to free us from eternal war, giving us true peace, which is Himself; wherefore we ought spontaneously and heartily (da se et con tutto il cuore) to embrace Christ our Saviour, and who is our true peace, and not show ourselves slow (et non ci rendiamo difficili) to receive so great a benefit offered by the divine mercy, lest there be said of us those words uttered by Christ concerning Jerusalem when drawing nigh to and weeping over the city, he said—
'Si cognovisses quâe tibi ad pacem sunt, nunc autem abscondita sunt ab oculis tuis.'
And thus (exclaimed he) say I to you, would ye but know the great grace God grants you by the mission of this peace.” On uttering which words his right reverend Lordship could not restrain his tears; and after using that expression, “would ye but know,” he staid himself for a moment, and then adding, “what God grants you,” remained silent for a short while, his eyes being suffused with tears. Then after a little he continued in a low tone, “You know what has passed, I pray you guard against the future;” and those words “si cognovisses” he pronounced with such effect and tenderness that not one of his congregation remained unmoved.
His right reverend Lordship after a few moments then resumed, “This peace then, which I am come to offer you on the part of God, must be received by those who wish for its enjoyment with great humility, as did on this day the glorious Virgin, who, when the angel announced peace to her in these words—
'Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum,'
although she was afraid and quite astounded (così smarisse tutta), did not fail to receive the said message with all humility; and not at all doubting thereof, but merely wishing to be well informed of God's will for its better execution, she inquired—
'Quomodo fiet istud, quoniam virum non cognosco?'
as if she would fain know whether she were to do that naturally or supernaturally (se dovesse far ciò naturalmente o sopra naturalmente), since naturally she could not conceive not having had connexion with man. Whereupon the angel answered her—
'Spiritus sanctus superveniet in te, et virtus Altissimi obumbrabit tibi;'
and hence comprehending immediately that the Holy Ghost would be the author of so miraculous a conception, she replied—
'Ecce ancilla Domini! fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum.'
And here it must be considered that she did not doubt the fact (chè non dubitò della cosa), but being anxious to obey the will of God inquired concerning the mode, neither would she be curious and say, “How can the Holy Ghost effect this?” nor in fine would she constitute herself the judge of the word of God as did the first woman, who, being invited by the serpent to contemplate the beauty of the apple, commenced judging God's commandment, causing thus her own fall from so great happiness into such an abyss of misery. For the reparation of such presumptuous pride no less an antidote was required than this simple humility of the glorious Virgin, who did not like Eve make herself the judge of the word of God, but, meekly venerating it, believed in the omnipotence of the Holy Ghost, and thus through the great humility of her quam Deus respexit, the world obtained that grace and peace which the first woman lost through her pride and temerity.”
His right reverend Lordship then continued that the holy writ afforded examples of three persons to whom God had spoken through His angel announcing to them great joy. The first was that of Gideon, to whom the angel said, “Dominus tecum, virorum fortissime,” (fn. 11) whereupon he was all dismayed (si smarrì tutto) and greatly feared to die, because after the sin of the first man, to whom the angel of God spoke as commanded by the Lord, forbidding him to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil under pain of death, so Adam, having disobeyed and hearing the approach of God from a distance, thought to flee and hide himself lest he should give him death, wherefore from that time forth all to whom the Lord spoke feared death, as did Gideon likewise, to whom although the angel said afterwards, “Fear not, Gideon, thou shalt not die, but wilt free the people of Irael from the hands of their enemies” (“Non dubitar, Gideone, tu non morirai, ma libererai il popolo de Isdrael (sic) dalle mani de suoi nemici, parve non dimeno che dovesse esser impossibile per esser egli di decrepita età et la moglie sua sterile et vecchissima finchè non hebbe un segno, in pena della quale sua incredulità non potè parlar mai, fin chè il figliolo fosse portato al tempio”), yet did this seem impossible to him on account of his decrepid age, and because his wife was barren and very old indeed, nor could he believe until he received a sign, and as the penalty of this his incredulity he remained speechless until his son was carried to the temple.
“The third instance was that of the most glorious Virgin, who without any doubt at all and with the utmost humility received the peace offered to her, and by imitating her you also, to whom as to her the first sound of the word of God may appear strange as proposing matters (che propone cose) repugnant to the flesh and to the human understanding, yet by receiving it in simplicity and humility, as did on this day the blessed Virgin, it will lead you to a peace truly blessed, and which will render you the children of God; and as Christ said to his apostles—
'Beati pacifici, quoniam ipsi filii Dei vocabuntur;'
the which peace will quiet your hearts, illumine (rischiarare) your minds, and cause you to despise the vain and transitory affairs of this world, making you journey in the way of the Lord, possessing in yourselves the light of life eternal; and when listening to the word of God should you perchance ever doubt of any point you should ask its explanation with all humility, as did the glorious Virgin, and not with a disposition to judge the word of God as it was judged by Eve, interpreting it according to your own sense, but rather that by knowing the will of God you may be better enabled to execute it; and to whom will you apply for this information? surely to none others than to those whom God has appointed through his spouse the church; with which will ever remain till the end of time, namely, to your curates and ordinaries (fn. 12) (curati et ordinarij), and immediately on hearing in what sense you ought to take it conformably to the doctrine of the Holy Catholic Church, then ought you to be ready to execute what you know to be the will of God in like manner as did the glorious Virgin, who said—
'Ecce ancilla Domini, fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum;'
and do you thus make a sacrifice of your hearts to God and be ready to keep His holy commandments, and then He will come to you, and dwell with you, bringing you the true internal peace, together with the treasure of His wisdom, giving you in this world extreme happiness, and in the other, life and peace eternal, which may God grant to all, for ever and ever. Amen.”
But I confess to you honestly, and in all truth, that the greater the grace with which his right reverend Lordship delivered this brief sermon thus unprepared, by so much the less is that with which I have described it, omitting moreover many things which I did not write down at the moment, because I was unable to follow so rapidly as he preached.
On the conclusion of the sermon his right reverend Lordship went to dine with the Earl of Pembroke, this being the first time he has eaten abroad, and the said Earl treated him very honourably.
The sermon, although simple and made on a sudden, gave much pleasure notwithstanding, and we have heard since, that it bore good fruit during the holy week. We then returned to the court, where during all this Lent six or eight priests have preached so well and learnedly, and with such piety, that I can say with truth that I never heard better in all my life; and on Holy Thursday, (fn. 13) at three o'clock in the afternoon, the most Serene Queen performed the ceremony of the feet-washing, thus:—
Her Majesty being accompanied by the right reverend Legate and by the Council, entered a large hall, at the head of which was my Lord Bishop of Ely as Dean (come Decano) of the Queen's chaplains, with the choristers of her Majesty's chapel. Around this hall on either side there were seated on certain benches, with their feet on stools, many poor women, to the number of forty and one, such being the number of the years of the most Serene Queen. Then one of the menials of the Court having washed the right foot of each of these poor persons, and this function being also next performed by the Under Almoner, and also by the Grand Almoner, who is the Bishop of Chichester, her Majesty next commenced the ceremony in the following manner:—At the entrance of the hall there was a great number of the chief dames and noble ladies of the court, and they prepared themselves by putting on a long linen apron which reached the ground, and round their necks they placed a towel, the two ends of which remained pendant at full length (fn. 14) on either side, each of them carrying a silver ewer, and they had flowers in their hands, the Queen also being arrayed in like manner. Her Majesty knelt down on both her knees before the first of the poor women, and taking in the left hand the woman's right foot, she washed it with her own right hand, drying it very thoroughly with the towel which hung at her neck, and having signed it with the cross she kissed the foot so fervently that it seemed as if she were embracing something very precious. She did the like by all and each of the other poor women, one by one, each of the ladies her attendants giving her in turn their basin and ewer and towel; and I vow to you that in all her movements and gestures, and by her manner, she seemed to act thus not merely out of ceremony, but from great feeling and devotion. Amongst these demonstrations there was this one remarkable, that in washing the feet she went the whole length of that long hall, from one end to the other, ever on her knees. Having finished and risen on her feet, she went back to the head of the hall, and commenced giving in turn to each of the poor women a large wooden platter, with enough food for four persons, filled with great pieces of salted fish, and two large loaves, and thus she went a second time distributing these alms. She next returned a third time, to begin again, giving to each of the women a wooden bowl filled with wine, or rather, I think, hippocras; after which, for the fourth time, she returned and gave to each of these poor people a piece of cloth of royal mixture for clothing (un pezzo di panno mischio di reale per vestire). Then returning for the fifth time she gave to each a pair of shoes and stockings; for the sixth time she gave to each a leathern purse, containing forty-one pennies, according to the number of her own years, and which in value may amount to rather more than half an Italian golden crown; (fn. 15) finally, going back for the seventh time, she distributed all the aprons and towels which had been carried by those dames and noble ladies, in number forty-one, giving each with her own hand.
Her Majesty then quitted the hall to take off the gown which she had worn, and half an hour afterwards she returned, being preceded by an attendant carrying the said gown, and thus she went twice round the hall, examining very closely all the poor women one by one, and then returning for the third time she gave the said gown to the one who was in fact the poorest and most aged of them all; and this gown was of the finest purple cloth, lined with martens' fur, and with sleeves so long and wide that they reached the ground. During this ceremony the choristers chaunted the miserere, with certain other psalms, reciting at each verse the words—
“In diebus illis mulier quæ erat in civitate peccatrix.”
After this, on Friday morning [4th April] the offertory was performed according to custom in the church of the Franciscan Friars, which is contiguous to the palace. After the Passion the Queen came down from her oratory for the adoration of the cross, accompanied by my lord the right reverend Legate, and kneeling at a short distance from the cross moved towards it on her knees, praying before it thrice, and then she drew nigh and kissed it, performing this act with such devotion as greatly to edify all those who were present. Her Majesty next gave her benediction to the rings, (fn. 16) the mode of doing so being as follows: An inclosure (un riparo) was formed for her Majesty to the right of the high altar by means of four benches placed so as to form a square, into the centre of which she again came down from her oratory, and placing herself on her knees within this inclosure, two large covered basins were brought to her, filled with rings of gold and silver, one of these basins containing rings of her own, whilst the other held those of private individuals (particolari), labelled with their owners' names. On their being uncovered she commenced reciting a certain prayer and psalms, and then taking them in her two hands (pigliandoli a mano per mano), she passed them again and again from one hand to the other, saying another prayer, which commenced thus:—
“Sanctifica, Domine, annulos istos.”
This being terminated, her Majesty went to bless the scrofulous, but she chose to perform this act privately in a gallery, where there were not above 20 persons; and an altar being raised there she knelt and recited the confession, on the conclusion of which her Majesty turned towards my right reverend Lord the Legate, who gave her absolution; whereupon a priest read from the Gospel according to St. Mark, and on his coming to the words—
“Super æegros manus imponet et bene habebunt,”
she caused one of those infirm women to be brought to her, and kneeling the whole time she commenced pressing, with her hands in the form of a cross, on the spot where the sore was, with such compassion and devotion as to be a marvel, and whilst she continued doing this to a man and to three women, the priest kept ever repeating these words:
“Super æegros manus imponet, et bene habebunt.”
Then on terminating the Gospel, after the words—
“In principio erat verbum,”
and on coming to the following, namely,—
“Erat lux vera quæ illuminat omnem hominem in hunc mundum,”
then the Queen made the sick people again approach her, and taking a golden coin called an angel, she touched the place where the evil showed itself, and signed it with this coin in the form of the cross; and having done this, she passed a ribbon through a hole which had been pierced in the coin, and placed one of these round the neck of each of the patients, making them promise never to part with that coin, which was hallowed, save in case of extreme need; and then, having washed her hands, the towel being presented to her by my Lord the right reverend the Legate, she returned to her oratory.
Having been present myself in person at all these ceremonies, her Majesty struck me as affording a great and rare example of goodness, performing all those acts with such humility and love of religion, offering up her prayers to God with so great devotion and affection, and enduring for so long a while and so patiently so much fatigue; and seeing thus, that the more her Majesty advances in the rule of this kingdom, so does she daily afford fresh and greater opportunities for commending her extreme piety, I dare assert that there never was a queen in Christendom of greater goodness than this one, whom I pray God long to save and prosper, for the glory of His divine honour, and for the edification and exaltation of His holy church, not less than for the consolation and salvation of the people of this island.
I will not omit telling you that on Holy Thursday alms were distributed here in the Court to a great amount, to upwards of 3,000 persons; and this reminds me that my right reverend Lord the Legate, having sent in advance to Canterbury to make great provision for his entry, which subsequently, for certain reasons, the Queen refused on any account to permit, his right reverend Lordship then caused all his provisions to be distributed amongst the poor, 2,000 of whom were reckoned, and these alms were taken to their houses; nor do I include herein the alms given to many other poor people, who had flocked to Canterbury from the neighbourhood; all which causes the indigent population there (quel povero popolo) now to await his right reverend Lordship with greater anxiety than ever.
London, 3rd May 1556.
May 4. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 474. Federico Badoer, Venetian Ambassador with the Emperor, to the Doge and Senate.
M. de la Chaux departs this day to go and take possession of Burgundy for King Philip, and as said by him again in public, the Emperor has not given him leave to remain more than a week, that he may return to him immediately to follow him to Spain; his Majesty intending to remove to Ghent, at the beginning of next month, and commanding the utmost haste to be made for the arrangement of his personal affairs. He has also sent to Zealand to hasten Don Luis de Caravajal, who writes that he has 20 ships in readiness, besides the seven fitted out by Bazan, which came from Spain well manned (con molte genti). Caravajal has also been ordered to keep some “urche,” and including the 15, with which the Queen wrote that she would accommodate his Majesty, they will be upwards of 60 sail. During the last six days the Emperor has been taking the water of the baths of Liège, and says that although it is not so efficacious as at the place itself, it nevertheless does him great good, and that he feels in better bodily health than he has been since a long while.
Brussels, 4th May 1556.
May 5. Dispacci Roma, Venetian Archives, No. 6. B. 475. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
The reverend Governor of Rome continuing to arrest as many of the household of the Imperial ambassador as can be found abroad, on account of the man they rescued from the catchpoles, Don Antonio Caraffa told him the other day publicly on St. Peter's Square, that he ought to carry water to extinguish the fire, and not feed it with fuel, it being now time for him to cease arresting the ambassador's attendants. He said that having been charged with the police of this city he could not fail in his duty; that he chose the papal officials to be respected, and would obey no one but his Holiness. One of the Caraffas, the Pope's kinsman, went in the name of the Count of Montorio to the ambassador's house, to tell him he would do well to place in the Governor's hands those of his attendants who rescued that man, as otherwise he could not assure the ambassador that the Pope would not confine him in the castle. The ambassador apologises by saying that what took place was against his will, and that he neither knows who the delinquents were, nor their present abode.
Then to-day, the Pope being on his way to the public consistory for the reception of the Polish ambassador, (fn. 17) said to the Cardinals Farnese and Santafiore (who were accompanying him as assistants), when speaking about ambassadors, that he no longer considered the Marquis of Sarria ambassador, that he had degraded him, but spared his life, in order not to disturb the negotiation for peace, as otherwise he would have sent his head flying far away from his shoulders, and that to his great regret did he abstain from doing so, solely to enable him to send the Legates (che gli haveria fatto buttar la testa lontana dal busto; e ch' è restata con suo gran dispiacere, solamente per poter mandare li Legati).
Rome, 5th May 1556.
May 5. MS. St. Mark's Library, Cod. xxiv. Cl. x. 476. Cardinal Pole to the Cardinal of Burgos [Francesco Mendoza].
Will not conceal from Mendoza his very great surprise and dissatisfaction, not only at the non-payment of the arrears of his pension [on the see of Burgos], but also that during so long a while Mendoza should have abstained from answering the letters which Pole wrote to him on this subject, requesting him with all earnestness to give such orders as would enable Pole to avail himself of what is due to him from Mendoza on account of this pension, of which he has great need, without writing to him again about his astonishment and regret. On receiving Mendoza's letter of the 28th March, (which to speak freely, did not altogether satisfy him, as he was thereby requested to wait yet longer, under promise of future payment, having already waited but too long, as on next St. John's day two years' pension will be due to him,) he learnt what he also heard, in date 8th April, from his agent at Rome, who had it from Mendoza's agent, that the management of the revenues of the see of Burgos had lately been assigned by Mendoza to certain merchants, with orders to pay Pole all his arrears immediately and in full, and to make the future payments in due season. Pole therefore desired the merchants his correspondents at Burgos to receive his entire credit, of which he already availed himself a long while ago, pledging it in England at considerable loss, and having relied on this announcement, he hopes in this matter likewise to be convinced by facts of Mendoza's goodwill towards him, of which, however, he has never doubted, and is persuaded that this difficulty, and the long delay in paying him, proceeded from any other cause than a deficiency of regard, knowing how much he himself entertains for Mendoza, and how very desirous he is of doing him any service he can. Again requests him to reply, and to give imperative orders for Pole's correspondents to be paid in full and without any delay, in which case Mendoza will very greatly oblige him.
London, 5th May 1556.
May 5. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 477. Giovanni Michiel, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
On the day of the execution of the two conspirators, on the sudden and unexpectedly, the Government sent to Fleet prison five leading cavaliers, (fn. 18) from amongst those most in the habit of frequenting the Court, personages of note and in general repute by reason of their rank and fortune. One of them is an individual of the family of the Earl of Devonshire, now resident at Venice, to whom he is related, by name Sir William Courtenay, who resides here, and is one of the young followers of the Court (giovane di seguito), yet does he begin to be talked about, and he is the son-in-law of the Lord Treasurer's son. (fn. 19) Courtenay and his companions were present at the execution of the conspirators, when they spoke with Throckmorton, seeming not only remote from all blame, but even from the suspicion of it. Many persons are of opinion that they were suspected, because whilst present at that spectacle they like youths perhaps expressed themselves more licentiously than becoming. Others suppose them to have been indicated by the said Throckmorton, who shortly before his death had a long private conversation with the Dean of Westminster [John Feckenham], who subsequently made his report to the Court, although in public Throckmorton said he had neither named nor injured anyone, because it was not in his power to do so, nor could he, nor would he. To me it has been told that the suspicion concerning these and other persons proceeds from an individual who during the first days of the discovery of the plot was arrested on account of certain intercepted letters from Henry Dudley, who is now a declared rebel. The person above mentioned would not at first confess anything, but subsequently, either from love or fear demanded a conference with Sir Edward Hastings, the Queen's Master of the Horse (cavalericco), who having gone to him by order of the Royal Council, brought back such information that the ministry immediately determined to arrest those five gentlemen, much to the surprise and regret of everybody by reason of their quality. Be this as it may I understand that some of them have already been removed from the “Fleet” to the Tower, their houses, moveables, and effects having been sequestered, and an inventory taken of them for account of the Exchequer.
On the same day another gentleman of repute (tenuto di stima), who commanded companies in the time of Wyatt, (fn. 20) was taken publicly to the Tower, together with a servant of Lord Clinton, and they have sent into the country to seize Sir Giles Strangeways, (fn. 21) a wealthy knight and a person of account, together with some others; and two days ago Lord Bray, (fn. 22) an attendant who enjoyed such great favour in the time of King Edward and of the Duke of Northumberland, was placed under close custody in the Tower; so that from day to day they verify the suspicion that the conspiracy included a greater number of persons and of higher grade and quality than those first arrested, it being already reported that the whole of the West is suspected, and that all the nobility and gentry resident there will be sent for, of whom the Earl of Worcester (fn. 23) has already arrived, he having been summoned by an order from the Queen, and all his retainers expecting him to be sent to prison, notwithstanding which he is as yet at large, and goes everywhere.
They are still constantly intent on the examination of the prisoners, those “indicted” according to the custom here, which signifies accused, being in number 20, nor can it be reasonably supposed that too lenient a sentence will be passed on them.
Lord Clinton returned from France two days ago, reporting himself as having been, according to custom, much honoured and favoured by the King, who also made him a present, and with regard to the rebels said frankly that not knowing them to be such they were therefore received as unreservedly as became the present peace and friendship between the two kingdoms, harbour being given to all sorts of Englishmen, in like manner as here they receive all sorts of Frenchmen; but if they are rebels, not knowing whither they have withdrawn themselves, whenever aware of their being in his territories, he will not fail, as is due, in having them placed in her Majesty's hands, it being his wish to maintain himself in such love and friendship with her as becoming. Should this be true your Serenity will have had more authentic notice of it from the French court; for on the contrary it is also heard that not only did the King not offer to surrender these individuals (a voler dar questi), but said openly that he would rather suffer in his own person than fail to receive and treat kindly any Englishman, of however low degree (qual si vogli minimo Anglese), who might take refuge in his realm. To-day the French ambassador was a long while at the palace, I believe about this business, concerning which should I hear that anything has passed worthy of your Serenity's notice, I will not omit to give you notice of it by the first opportunity.
After Francesco Piamontese, Gamboa was despatched with the same speed. The transactions between Queen Mary and her consort are carried on with greater secrecy than ever, and with difficulty can they be ascertained save through the result, everything else being mere conjecture.
The negotiation for the peace has commenced here between the Abbot of San Saluto and the French ambassador; although it took a good turn, it seems to have been postponed by all the parties until the arrival of the Apostolic Legates; so the Abbot expecting to have to remain a long while idle here, has determined to wait no longer, but to follow up his determination of proceeding to Italy, and departed this day, going by way of France, where having to remain at the court for affairs of his own, he will, perhaps, moreover, stay for these (per questi), being considered an excellent instrument, by reason of the trust and authority he has gained for himself with both sides, and he will perhaps be able to do more good abroad than by remaining here.
London, 5th May 1556.
[Italian, partly in cipher; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]


  • 1. See also Foreign Calendar, 1555–1558, entry No. 496, April 12, 1556, p. 222.
  • 2. Volendo loro et gli altri per sudditi et non per compagni.
  • 3. Et se fussero d'altra sorte, quando ne fussero figlioli non che nipoti li scacciaressimo da noi con li calzi; per dir le proprie parole di sua Santità come mi sforzo di fare sempre.
  • 4. No date of time or place in MS.
  • 5. No date of time or place in MS.
  • 6. Marco Antonio Faitta was the secretary of Cardinal Pole, as appears by his signature to his master's will, which he witnessed and sealed at Lambeth on the 4th of October 1558.
  • 7. Ippolito Chizzola, a native of Brescia, although he confuted Vergerio, and wrote treatises in defence of the Roman Catholic Church, was accused at Rome of preaching sermons in Venice tainted with Lutheranism; a fact worthy of record, as his correspondence with Cardinal Pole's secretary affords indirect proof of the liberal sentiments prevalent in the household of the last Roman Catholic Primate of England.
  • 8. Probably some kinsman of the Ambassador Giovanni Michiel.
  • 9. “The young children ask bread and no man breaketh it unto them.” (Lamentations iv.)
  • 10. “And I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing.” (Ezekiel xxxiv., 26. Oxford edition, 1859.)
  • 11. “The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.” (Judges vi. 12.)
  • 12. “Ordinary, n. s., established judge of ecclesiastical causes.” (See Johnson's Dietionary.)
  • 13. Videlicet on the 3rd of April, as in 1556 Easter Sunday was on the 6th April.
  • 14. Et si missero intorno al collo uno ascingatoio che pendeva giù dalle due parti quant' era lungo.
  • 15. The golden crown and the Venetian sequin were of equal value, so it is thus seen that in the course of two centuries and a half the standard of the English silver coinage had been so debased, that the sequin, which in 1410 could be purchased in London for 30½d., was worth 82 pence in the year 1556. The value of the sequin in English money in 1410 is ascertained by a document registered in the Venetian Calendar, vol. 4, p. 451.
  • 16. “Cramp-rings,” concerning which see Foreign Calendar, 1553–1558, pp. 164, 165, 167.
  • 17. The departure of the Polish ambassador, and the reply given to his demands, are recorded in Foreign Calendar, date 9th June 1556, p. 228.
  • 18. Sir William Courtenay, Sir John Paratt, Sir John Pallard, Sir Nicholas Arnold, and Sir John Chichester. (See Machyn, p. 104.)
  • 19. Sir William Courtenay had married Elizabeth, daughter of John Powlet. He was killed at the storming of St. Quentin, or died shortly afterwards. (See Collins, vol. 6, p. 264.)
  • 20. Captain William Staunton. (See Machyn, pp. 105, 106, 348, and the Verney Papers, pp. 61, 70, 71.)
  • 21. See Machyn (pp. 281, 389), who, however, makes no mention of this arrest, neither is it recorded in “the Verney Papers.”
  • 22. John, Lord Bray. (See Machyn, p. 361, and Verney Papers, pp. 66, 67, 73–76.)
  • 23. William Herbert, fourth Earl.