Venice: May 1556, 6-15

Pages 441-449

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, 6–15

May 9. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 478. Giacomo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Lieutenant d'Amont, the Imperial Ambassador, has arrived, and conferred with the Constable. The release of the prisoners is reduced to two principal points; first, the Emperor and his son persevere in their intention (continuano in proposito) of releasing the prisoners for the ransom already stipulated, and as they have not given a just account of their revenues and pensions, their Majesties are content that the King do especially charge them to make just returns under pain of his displeasure; but what gives offence is that they will not release them until the expiration of the three months, which was the term assigned by their Majesties for the release of the Duke de Bouillon and the Constable's son, although at the first and second concordats (nelli concordati primo et secondo) this was not declared. The other point is, that the Imperialists say that in the promise made by the Emperor and King Philip to release the two aforesaid personages within three months, they declared that within that period they would put a fair pecuniary ransom on them, but it was not expressed that within that same term they should be released which statement when made by the ambassador to the Constable, he answered him that these are questions of law (ponti da homeni di legge), and not for discussion between Princes, and that although these words were now uttered he could not bring himself to believe that such was the mind (animo) of the Emperor and King Philip; whereupon the ambassador rejoined that by means of a good peace all these difficulties would be settled in a week. These words are much pondered, and it is supposed that these delays about the release of the prisoners are not only for the purpose of having security in hand that the most Christian King may not think of innovation (non pensi a cose nove), but also to facilitate a certain negotiation for peace, which by advices from England and other quarters receives confirmation of being much desired by the Imperialists.
Blois, 9th May 1556.
[Italian, partly in cipher; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
May 10. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 479. Federico Badoer, Venetian Ambassador with the Emperor, to the Doge and Senate.
The Emperor's orders for departure to Spain are being executed daily, and the ships in Zealand are so prepared that they await nothing but his arrival, as even the cabins (appartamenti) are made not only in the one destined for his Majesty, which is one of the seven Biscainers, but also on board all the others; and the troops are being raised in Friesland by the Count of Nassau.
The Emperor is having his household paid, giving 12 arrears (paghe) to each of its members, and the remaining 10 will be given at the time of his departure for Ghent, whither he will depart within a month; and the Queens, who went to Tournai, are attending to such matters as are necessary to enable them to accompany his Majesty. The report also of King Philip's going to England still continues, but neither the ministers nor his Majesty himself any longer assert that it will take place at the beginning of next month, as he told Lord Paget, who went about assuring everybody of this, and that he should go back with his Majesty; but by taking leave of the Emperor yesterday, to depart in three days, he has surprised everybody. Some persons believe that the King has rather cooled about going so immediately as was promised by him, owing to the confession made to the Queen by one of the prisoners that he had determined to kill her consort; and some are of opinion that King Philip has sent Lord Paget back, in order that he may return subsequently with the Earl of Pembroke and other English noblemen, to conduct him, with more positive arrangements (con ordini più stabili), Don Juan Manrique, a member of the privy council, having said that although the Queen professes here to resign herself thus to the King's will, it is nevertheless evident that she either allows herself to be biased by her ministers, or that Paget has promised more than he was commissioned to do. Others say that his Majesty's departure for England is delayed by the hope of the coming hither of the King of Bohemia.
The Duke of Savoy and the Bishop of Arras, with the council of these States, departed yesterday for Tournai (per Fornaut—sic) in order (it is said) to consult with Queen Maria about pecuniary supply, owing to the difficulties about the demand made by the King from the lords and deputies; and some say to discuss the necessary arrangements for the departure of both their Majesties, giving orders for a great number of ships, troops, and artillery; whilst others are of opinion that this has been done for the purpose of thus quieting the anger of Queen Maria, who before her departure was heard to say that neither the King nor the others any longer held her suggestions in such account as was due by reason of her long experience in the government of these provinces.
Brussels, 10th May 1556.
[Italian, partly in cipher; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
May 10. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 480. Federico Badoer, Venetian Ambassador with the Emperor, to the Doge and Senate.
M. de Lalain has returned from France, and although in public he congratulates himself greatly on the honours and acts of courtesy received from the most Christian King, I have nevertheless heard, that from various signs remarked by him during his stay at the French court, he has reported that no certainty can be entertained of the duration of the truce; and this morning the French ambassador accredited to their Majesties here went to King Philip to remind him of his promise, that on the return of M. de Lalain he would decide about the prisoners, urging his Majesty to release the four principal ones. The King replied that the day before yesterday he sent an express to his ambassador in France telling him he thought his most Christian Majesty should seek the ransom of all his prisoners, and not merely of four, and that he should release the six hundred slaves of the gallies of the Prince and of Signor Antonio Doria, who were detained in Corsica, one day after the stipulation of this truce, by Giordano Orsini. The Frenchman replied that neither his King nor any private individual should be bound to ransom one [prisoner] rather than another; and that he did not think it just that those who were able to pay should remain in prison on account of those who had not the means of providing for their ransoms. King Philip rejoined, that if they could not pay neither was it just that his subjects should have to pay their expenses for so long a while without hope of being ever reimbursed; and although the King's words were gentle (dolce), those which the ambassador utters on the subject are nevertheless bitter (amare), for he says that the promise made to his King by the commissioners at Cambrai is not observed.
Advices have been received to-day from these frontiers giving notice that not only are the French troops not disbanding, as has been done by those of the Emperor and the King, but that they are adding to their numbers; which some persons attribute to the intention of France to break the truce, and others to the purpose of creating suspicion, and also of taking some step to interrupt the coronation in England, by reason of the troops which are being raised in Friesland for embarkation on board the fleet which is now being prepared for the Emperor's departure (et chi al dissegno di metter sospetto et anco di far alcun effetto per interomper la incoronatione in Anglia per le genti che si fanno in Frisia da condur sull' armata che si prepara per la partita di Sua Cesarea Maestà).
The deputies of these provinces have answered the King that for just causes they cannot grant his Majesty's demand for one per cent. on immoveables and two per cent on moveables, but that they are willing, by other means, to raise a million of gold, as notified by some of them heretofore, for the succour of his need; but from what I have heard from the author of the proposal, the King has modified the demand, and said in writing that he is satisfied with one per cent. alone; assuring them positively of two things, the one, that he is content not to send any of the officials of his court to register the property and take an estimate of it, but that this be done by the parish priests and the chief burghers (li piovani et i principali delli luoghi); the other, that he will not receive this money himself, but that it be employed for the payment of his debt to Antwerp and other towns which pledged their revenues to serve his Majesty; as also to give to divers lords who served in this war without stipend, and mortgaged their castles for expenditure when required; and moreover that it may be spent on the new fortresses in these provinces, and on others which stand in need of repair. The King is also content that for the ordinary service of his table and the court there be put aside 200,000 crowns annually, and that this sum be sent to him from day to day proportionally. Should the demand be accepted, the projector of the tax tells me it will yield his Majesty two millions of gold, though the States have five years time within which to disburse it. The deputies have also requested the King to recall the Spanish troops from these frontiers, and to garrison them with his own [Flemish] subjects, who would be quite sufficient for that purpose during the truce; but the Duke of Savoy, as governor of these provinces, told the King before his departure that he ought not to consent to this, but compel the States to pay in ordinary 3,000 of these Spaniards and 400 cavalry, and 3,000 Germans from Upper Germany, by reason of the suspicions about the rupture of the truce.
Brussels, 10th May 1556.
[Italian, partly in cipher; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
May 12. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 481. Federico Badoer, Venetian Ambassador with the Emperor, to the Doge and Senate.
Lord Paget departed this morning on his return to England, and from what he told many persons, the King, in the act of his taking leave, charged him to tell the Queen that if he did not return to her in the course of next month without waiting any longer for the King of Bohemia, or having regard for any other impediment, she was not to consider him a trustworthy King (ella non lo stimasse Re degno di fede); and of this he also received assurance from the Emperor, who moreover said that his wish was to embark for Spain before the expiration of that term, and that he should endeavour to do so before his son's departure. Lord Paget received from the King a chain worth twelve hundred crowns, which his attendants said was a recompense the precise equivalent of the expenses incurred by him during this brief mission, as he spent 170 crowns weekly for his table alone. At the last banquet given by him to several Spanish cavaliers, I have heard that when discussing the King's departure for England some of them said to him that considering so many conspiracies, and the confession of that individual who had determined to kill him with a carbine (archibusetto) on his landing, and knowing their ill-will, they (the Spaniards) cannot commend his return thither; to which Lord Paget replied that they might come cheerfully, as he assured them that for the future the authority they exercised in England would be of a different sort to what they have had there hitherto ai quali esso rispose, che potevano venir allegramente, perchè accertava loro, che nell' avenire, sariano di altra auttorità in quel Regno, che non sono stati).
The French ambassador says that the 200,000 crowns which Lord Paget reported as having been taken by him at Antwerp and Bruges for the Queen of England, were disbursed by the merchants to give to the King her consort.
The Spaniard Portiglio has returned from the King of Bohemia with letters for the Emperor and King Philip, giving them sure hope of his coming, and I understand that the Emperor wrote him back immediately a most loving letter, praying him to speed his coming, as next month his Imperial Majesty purposed departing hence, telling him besides that he was quite disposed to gratify the said Maximilian and the King his father by sending the act of renunciation of the Empire to the Diet at Ratisbon, a proceeding which the Spaniards say is solicited (procurata) by the King of the Romans, (fn. 1) lest in case the Emperor make the renunciation during absence, the electors take a fancy to elect a King of Bohemia, and such a one as perchance might not be of the House of Austria, and thus cause much mischief.
A courier arrived yesterday from Spain with a very long letter from the Council of Castille to the King, who is ill pleased with it, as it exceeded the bounds of discretion, not only by reminding his Majesty of the things he ought to do, but also of those which he should leave undone; nor is it heard that the preparations for the war in Africa proceed in the manner reported here some time ago. This same courier gave news of their having great hope of a good harvest this year, and he has brought the Emperor a specimen of the new vein of silver, which his Majesty choose to have assayed, to compare it with that of the Indies and of the Tyrol, which it exceeds by about 15 per cent. (et dicesi esser avantaggiata da quelle di quindici per cento in circa). The King has lately farmed a duty in that province [Castille], which yielded him 26,000 crowns revenue, and for which he will now obtain 300,000 crowns.
Don Diego de Azevedo, the King's maggiordomo, has been destined by him to go to Spain to receive the oath from the kingdoms of Aragon, Valentia, and Catalonia; and in the other kingdoms, according to their laws and customs, the standards were raised, as a sign that his Majesty had succeeded to them; and it is said that Don Diego will negotiate certain matters with the Queen in England.
From the letters of the Duke of Savoy and the Bishop of Arras, who went with the Council of State to Queen Maria at Tournai (Fornaut—sic) it seems that she is beyond measure enraged because the King has refused to give her the town of Mechlin, it appearing to his Majesty and the Emperor that she does not intend going to Spain, although she has hitherto made a contrary demonstration; and Don Ruy Gomez has said that possibly the King will go to see her.
The Marquis of Renti (d'Arrenti) departed hence postwise this day for Cambrai, whither he is informed that his brother, the Duke d'Arschot, who was prisoner in France, has made his escape. Count Broccardo, who was accredited to the Queen of Poland, has also been commissioned to go to the Pope, to inform him that the Emperor and King Philip will soon send him an ambassador, as they understand he is dissatisfied with the Marquis of Sarria; but the chief ministers here believe his Holiness to bear their Majesties the utmost ill-will that could be entertained towards them by an open enemy, and they suspect him of harassing them in the kingdom of Naples, through some combination which they expect him to effect with the King of France by means of Cardinal Caraffa.
Brussels, 12th May 1556.
[Italian, partly in cipher; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
May 12. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 482. Giovanni Michiel, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Since the arrest of those gentlemen mentioned in my last nothing further has happened save that of those who were imprisoned first of all, three others have been tried, two of whom were condemned, there not being then time (fn. 2) to despatch the third, who was taken back [to the Guildhall] to-day and convicted.
Of these three one had been the servant and the son of a great servant (fn. 3) of the Queen, both one and the other being very well deserving of her Majesty, the father having succoured her, in the time of the Duke of Northumberland, with a considerable sum of money belonging to the Crown and to himself individually, which he chanced to have in cash, whilst his son [Henry] was the man who with a few companions succeeded in closing and keeping the gate of the city of London (which until a short while before his appearance had remained open), whereby Wyatt intended to make his entry; so it is hoped the Queen will at least spare his life, though he was pardoned heretofore for robberies (anchor che un' altra volta li fusse perdonato per latrocinij).
The two are captains, men of birth and valour (li due sono capitanei, persone nobili, et valorose), and on the way from the Tower to the Guildhall, and on their return, they were accompanied by the populace in tears, a demonstration rarely or never made in favour of persons condemned for high treason, these signs being an additional proof of the regret and compassion felt for their death; nor is it expected that they, or the others who from time to time may be convicted, will by any means obtain either pardon or remission, it being said that the Queen has thus determined, by reason of the small fruit derived from her past indulgence and clemency.
Of the gentlemen in the Fleet it seems that by reason of a letter of evil nature (una lettera di mala natura) which has come to light, Sir William Courtenay has been removed thence, and taken to the Tower; the others are allowed more liberty, having had leave to speak with anybody in the presence of the captain of the prison; and the chief personages who were sent for from the provinces begin to arrive.
This letter of evil nature is said to have come from beyond sea, through Peter Carew, heretofore a rebel and accomplice in Wyatt's conspiracy, it having been addressed to him by some of the [present] conspirators, unbosoming their whole intention and projects, to draw him over to them as a person of ability and who has followers. Carew having revealed the conspiracy to King Philip, his Majesty did not choose that he should go to him in person, (fn. 4) but under another pretence despatched Sir John Masone and Lord Paget to Antwerp, where Carew was, and he there showed and delivered the letter to them, the King sending it hither subsequently, and in it are the names of the chief conspirators.
The fitting out of the ships for the conveyance of the Admiral towards Portsmouth for the security of those parts, and that they may be ready for the return of the King, is being hastened more than usual, the last advices from Lord Paget, dated the 7th, purporting that it will not be long delayed as the coming of the King of Bohemia is at an end.
At the audience given to the French ambassador, first by the Queen and then by the Council, nothing but compliments passed with regard to Lord Clinton's mission, though her Majesty persisted in saying that she could not believe that the most Christian King would break the promise given by him to his Lordship of delivering up to her her rebels; and the ambassador confirmed this, saying in his King's name that his Majesty would do his utmost, though he did not vouch for the result, saying on the contrary that with so many provisoes and prohibitions it was difficult for his King to deliver up the others, who contrary to his will secrete themselves throughout his dominions (anzi dicendo esser cosa difficile al suo Re con tutte le provisioni et prohibitioni che egli facci haver delli altri che contra la voglia sua vano, nascondendosi per i suoi Regni).
Besides the two couriers sent in haste beyond sea one after the other, neither of whom has yet returned, a third has moreover been despatched, this last being the servant of the President Figueroa, and the designs (pratiche) are more secret than ever.
The Bishop of Lincoln is sending an express to Rome for the bulls of induction to the see of Winchester (a far la espeditione della chiesa di Vincestre), on which the Queen has chosen him to assign 1,000l. to Cardinal Pole, for whom she has also ordered the release of certain revenues of his archbishopric held by the Crown to the amount of about 4,000 golden ducats (scudi), so that his right reverend Lordship is enabled to exercise with less inconvenience his liberality in favour of some of his Italian servants on their return to Italy, amongst whom and to some few who remain here he has distributed 6,000 crowns (scudi) ready money, as remuneration for their services, besides 300 crowns pension conceded by him to the Abbot of Saluto (on his departure) for his nephews, to be derived from his right reverend Lordship's abbacy in the Ferrarese.
London, 12th May 1556.
May 15. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 483. Giacomo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
To-day on my arrival here, when following the court to Fontainebleau, I received news that on the night of the 12th the Duke d'Arschot [Philippe de Cröy], who was prisoner in a palace of the King's, one league from Paris, called the wood of Vincennes, made his escape as arranged by some Flemish gentlemen who had obtained permission to visit him, thus:—Having let himself down by the . . . [corroded in MS.] of a privy (d'un loco immondo), with the assistance of one of his keepers whom he had bribed, he pushed himself so far forward (si tirrò tanto avanti), that having got to a convenient spot the persons who were in waiting for that purpose extricated him, and having mounted on oxen (et montati sopra bovi) and. . . . . . [corroded in MS.] already prepared, he went off, and is supposed to be already in safety, as although officials were very soon sent from Paris in every direction to seize him, it is nevertheless not heard that he has been found. This intelligence has greatly disturbed the court, because owing to the loss of so great a personage they fear that the release of the prisoners will be more difficult than before, the only other Imperialist of quality being the Count [Albert] de Mansfeldt, who was comprised in the ordinary ransom for the release of the other prisoners, but the Constable in particular will suffer greatly, not only from the aforesaid difficulty, but also because even should the release be finally accomplished he remains without the means of exchanging his son for this duke, whose ransom had been already given to him by his most Christian Majesty for that purpose.
Orleans, 15th May 1556.


  • 1. According to a letter quoted by M. Mignet in his “Abdication de Charles Quint,” p. 117 (ed. Paris, 1868), the King of the Romans in October 1555 did his utmost to prevent Charles V. from renouncing the Imperial crown, and prayed him at any rate not to publish the act of renunciation until the next Diet.
  • 2. Henry Peckham and John Daniel were tried on the 7th May 1556; William Staunton on the 12th May. (See Verney Papers, Camden Society publication, p. 71.)
  • 3. Sir Edmund Peckham, knight, of Denham, in the county of Bucks, “distinguished himself by his loyal zeal in opposition to Lady Jane Grey. He was among the first to proclaim Queen Mary in his own county of Buckingham, and united with Sir Francis Hastings in raising men to act on the rear of the forces which Northumberland was leading against Mary. Sir Edmund Peckham's rewards were found in a grant of lands, and in the constant favour of his grateful mistress. During the reign of Edward VI. he had been appointed to the office of Treasurer of the Mint, and throughout her reign he was also one of her privy council. On Elizabeth's accession he was laid aside as a privy councillor, but continued undisturbed in his office of the Mint.” (See notices of the “loyal Sir Edmund Peckham,” by Mr. John Bruce, in Verney Papers, pp. 57, 58.)
  • 4. In the original letter the word is “principalmente,” evidently a mistake for “personalmente.”