Venice: May 1556, 16-25

Pages 449-458

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, 16–25

May 16. Dispacci Roma, Venetian Archives, No. 6. B. 484. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
On Sunday there was “congregation” and chapel.
In the congregation the Pope after inveighing against the Colonna family, expatiating on the injuries done by them to the Apostolic See, commended those popes who of yore deprived them of their state, adding that his predecessors had not known how to finish the work as he intended doing, as that state must not be kept in the apostolic chamber, but be given to a person who would hold it in fee from the church, and be able to defend it during an interregnum, and that should his Holiness not have had nephews capable of this charge, he would diligently have sought for a person to whom to give it; but as His Divine Majesty had given him the Count of Montorio, it was on him that he would confer it, preferring his Caraffa family to that of Colonna, and saying that the Count might be compared and preferred to the Ascaniuses, the Marc's Antonios, and the Prosperos, and others (e che 'l Conte potea esser comparato, et anteposto alli Ascanij, Marcantonij, Prosperi, et altri), and that he, the Pope, spoke sparingly about him (ch' era scarso in parlar di lui) because he was his nephew. His Holiness then told the cardinals that he had not called them for the purpose of receiving either reply or counsel from them, but that if they had anything to add in confirmation of his discourse they might do so, coming to the conclusion that he purposed expelling his enemies from the house, providing against the possibility of their return, and leaving the affairs of the Apostolic See in such security that the cardinals, should they be men of worth and not factious, will not have to fear anyone. To these words nothing whatever was said, but all the cardinals openly evinced dissatisfaction, and on their entering the chapel the Count of Montorio made his appearance in a ducal mantle of cloth of gold, and the Pope created him Duke of Paliano, and of the rest of the state belonging to the late Ascanius Colonna. The ceremony consisted in blessing him, giving him the sword and spurs, striking him thrice on the shoulder with the sword, giving him the ducal bonnet of crimson velvet ornamented with a profusion of pearls and jewels, and the silver-gilt sceptre, and causing him to swear fealty to his Holiness and his successors on the holy gospels, and to present the Pope with a gold cup containing a few crowns as acknowledgment for the fief. The bull of investiture was read by Signor Berengo in so low a voice as to be inaudible. According to report Don Diomede, the new Duke's son, is created Marquis of Cava, a state which in like manner belonged to Ascanius Colonna; in default of the line of the late Count of Montorio, that of his brother the Count of Montorio is to succeed; and on St. Peter's day, when all the other feudatories pay, they are to disburse the annual acknowledgment (censo) of a thousand crowns.
On the conclusion of the mass the Duke went to the Campidoglio accompanied by a great number of horsemen in the service of the courtiers, by the hundred Roman cavaliers, by the light cavalry of the Pope's guard, and by some companies of infantry. He was preceded by three standards, followed by many prelates, and when he passed the castle it saluted him with endless discharges of artillery, and bonfires and illuminations blazed in Rome and in the castle for two consecutive evenings, as usual at public rejoicings. The Count of Matalona (whose arrival from Naples was mentioned in my last) served at the ceremony, girding and ungirding the Count's sword, and he is said to have come by permission of the Duke of Alva, and that he purposes requesting the Pope to make his town a city.
The bull of investiture was signed by the cardinals, and in the act of signing Cardinal Tournon said that in France his signature would be considered null, as he had not been in the council (non essendo stato nel consiglio), and the Cardinal San Giacomo (fn. 1) refused to sign as he was not at the congregation, and the act not seeming to him advantageous either for the Apostolic See or for his Holiness' family.
On that day the Pope invited all the cardinals to dinner, the greater part of whom remained, as did the ambassador from Poland and myself, I having been invited in the Pope's name. The tables having been removed three times (3 volte levate le tavole), (fn. 2) the Pope withdrew to the audience chamber, whither having called the cardinals and us ambassadors, he said that on that day he had performed an act greatly to his satisfaction, and that God the Blessed had inspired him to do so in the month and perhaps on the very day when these enemies of God, years ago, sacked Rome, nor has the due vengeance prepared by the great justice of God for this crime committed by them and their accomplices as yet been witnessed to the full; and then turning towards the cardinals Pacheco and Cueva he said to them, “Your countrymen (li vostri) were the villains who perpetrated that act of impiety.” His Holiness then added, “To-morrow we shall perform another important ceremony, viz., that of assembling consistory to give the cross to the legates, that they may go to endeavour to effect a peace. From the King of France, of whose mind we are almost sure, we expect it; from your people (dalli vostri)”—again addressing the Cardinals Pacheco and Cueva—“we know not what to hope. We choose to clear up this doubt, nor will we fail in our duty.” Everybody remained quiet at this discourse, nor did the Spanish cardinals of the Imperial faction dare raise their eyes. From this topic the Pope passed to a lament about the calamity of the present times, with regard to heresy, complaining that kingdoms and provinces heretofore Christian were in danger, whereupon the Polish ambassador, my neighbour, said to me angrily, “Quorsum tendit ista oratio?” and the Pope continuing to speak on this subject, my colleague said to me again in anger, “Vellem propius adesse; nescio quomodo inciderit in istum sermonem recordari initium, nec video adhuc finem.” From this same ambassador I heard that at his private audience he told the Pope that the Poles made five demands of the King; first, the marriage of priests; secondly, the communion sub utrâque specie; thirdly, the mass in their own tongue; fourthly, a national council; fifthly, suppression of the annats; they being determined on these things at any rate. He said that this seemed to trouble the Pope, who chose to discuss these matters in person with the ambassador, and not through cardinals.
I am told that when the Duchess of Paliano (fn. 3) went to kiss the Pope's foot, he told her she had good cause to rejoice, as he has given her husband a secure state, and which will certainly be his, and pass to his descendants. This new duchy is said to yield an annual rental of 20,000 crowns; and that the Duke will find produce there to the amount of 8,000; and two companies have been sent thither to prevent any disturbance. The Captain Palazzo of Fano has also been sent to make a careful survey of Palliano, and report upon the mode of rendering it a fortress.
The night before last at the fourth hour (midnight), Cardinal Caraffa, the Duke, and Marshal Strozzi and Don Antonio, went with other engineers to inspect Rocca di Papa in order to fortify it. They rode postwise, in order to return, as they did, at an early hour in the evening.
This investiture is considered a very momentous affair, and likely to cause many changes, as will be seen from day to day; and from a person in the confidence of the Imperialists, I understand that the Count di Popoli having sent the Duke of Alva certain advices from Rome about the investiture of the Colonna states in the person of the Count of Montorio, and concerning the intention of fortifying one or two places, the Duke said that he should put up with everything, and not attack without an order from the Emperor and the King of England, but that he would not tolerate fortifications on the borders of the kingdom of Naples, in which matter he should not await instructions; and he desired the bearer of the advices to say this much to the said Count di Popoli.
Rome, 16th May 1556.
May 16. Dispacci Roma, Venetian Archives, No. 6. B. 485. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
On Monday consistory assembled, and after audience the crosses were given to the legates, whom all the cardinals accompanied beyond St. Peter's gate.
According to the letters from Naples, Marc' Antonio Colonna, who is going to the Imperial court with the Neapolitan donative for the King of England, has set out for Bari, with the intention of embarking on board your Serenity's gallies bound thither with the Queen of Poland.
Rome, 16th May 1556.
May 17. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 486. Federico Badoer, Venetian Ambassador with the Emperor, to the Doge and Senate.
On the morrow of Lord Paget's departure for England, the King sent him a courier, and shortly afterwards the Secretary Verzosa; the one announcing the despatch of this last, the other having charge of some jewels for presentation to the Queen in his Majesty's name.
On that same day, by King Philip's order, there were arrested between Mechlin and Antwerp, Sir Peter Carew, and another Englishman, late tutor of King Edward and son-in-law of Sir John Masone, who resides with King Philip as councillor for the Queen (per consigliero della Regina). (fn. 4) They were brought hither in the first instance to a place called Vilvert (sic), from which they were then taken secretly to Ghent, and it is said they will be conveyed to England. This circumstance has surprised everybody here, and greatly pains the English, as some of the persons aforesaid were presented here to King Philip and obtained his pardon for the things treated against him heretofore when he went to consummate his marriage with the Queen; and from what the King told the Duke of Savoy, who repeated it, he had them arrested from suspicion of fresh plots against himself and his consort; but the English here, being of opinion that the suspicions are unfounded, say openly that this proceeding will cause his Majesty to lose the adherents already gained by him. I have also heard that the Secretary Verzosa was sent both to give account of these arrests to the Queen, and to obtain from her letters of credit to the English merchants at Bruges (Berges) for a sum of equal amount to that which she sent by Lord Paget.
The Duke of Savoy, the Prince of Orange, the Bishop of Arras, and all the other members of the council of these States, have returned from Tournai, whither they went under pretence (con nome) of asking counsel (about the demand for a subsidy made lately from them) of Queen Maria, whose anger continues; and she shows very plainly that she will neither precede the Emperor to Spain, as he had requested her to do, nor accompany him. There is nothing more to tell either about his Majesty's departure, or of that of the King, for England, save that certain leading ministers give it to be understood that the Emperor might delay the execution of his project, solely in the event of some resolve formed by the Pope and the King of France, to his Imperial Majesty's detriment and that of King Philip; and whenever letters arrive here from Rome and Florence, many evil reports are heard from the Imperial ministers there of the ill-will of his Holiness and of the Duke of Ferrara towards their Majesties; so that, from what I have heard, it has been several times discussed in the privy council whether the Emperor and King Philip should show openly that they know the Pope's mind, and adopt measures in accordance with it.
The Spaniard who was sent by the King to his most Christian Majesty is returned from France, and has brought back the decision about certain articles added to those of the truce.
The Duke of Arschot has arrived here, and the French ambassador says it will be proved that he cannot justly be released in the mode adopted by him, without paying his ransom, as when conceded greater liberty he gave his “parole” not to make his escape. (fn. 5)
Brussels, 17th May 1556.
[Italian, partly in cipher; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
May 17. MS. St. Mark's Library, Cod. xxiv. Cl. x. 487. Cardinal Pole to the Duke of Alva.
Pole's old and very dear friend the Archbishop of Salerno, by his learning and other rare qualities, deserves the opinion formed of him by the Emperor when he proposed him for that see, the government of which Pole knows must subject him to many difficulties; so although certain that Alva, of his own accord, will be ready to favour all his wishes for the service of God, he nevertheless requests Alva, with all earnestness, to be content, for love of Pole likewise, especially to protect him and his affairs relating to that bishopric, which, from the long absence of his predecessors, has suffered great loss and detriment, both spiritual and temporal, and for this Pole will remain especially obliged to Alva.
London, 17th May 1556.
May 17? MS. St. Mark's Library, Cod. xxiv. Cl. x. 488. Cardinal Pole to the Cardinal of Mantua.
The ambassador of the Duke of Mantua has delivered to him the Cardinal's affectionate letter giving particular account of his state. Prays God to continue protecting the Cardinal and the duchy, and that he may be daily comforted more and more by seeing his nephew the Duke such as the Cardinal and the Lady Duchess his mother have always endeavoured to render him, to the honour of God and to the benefit of his subjects. With this opportunity for writing to the Cardinal, will not omit to tell him how much he was pleased to hear of the protection so warmly conceded by him to the Captain Ormanetto, the brother of Messer Nicolò, in conformity with the other favours and kindnesses hitherto conceded him. Pole being satisfied to the uttermost with the services of Messer Nicolò, cannot but be bound to love, not only him, but all his family for his sake, and to wish them every happiness and advantage.
London, 17th May 1556? (fn. 6)
May 19. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 489. Giovanni Michiel, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
To-day the sentence passed on one of the three culprits (fn. 7) lately condemned was carried into effect, it being still doubtful whether the other two [John Daniel and Henry Peckham] will obtain pardon, though this respite is in their favour. The one now executed was once before convicted in the time of Wyatt, under whom he served as captain, and was pardoned, which aggravates his offence (il suo errore).
To the list of prisoners a widow woman (una donna vedova) has been added, the late Sir—Brocklier's (fn. 8) wife, who, although a gentlewoman, is nevertheless factious, and has a bad name, and lest search should be made for her she determined on flight to avoid imprisonment, and had already set out, but being recognised either at the seaside or on the road she was arrested and brought hither to the Tower, where it is heard that fresh prisoners arrive daily, two more having been taken last night, but not persons of quality, though I am told that in Flanders they have arrested Peter Carew and Dr. Cheke, tutor of the late King Edward, a circumstance which causes universal astonishment, as, according to general report, Carew was the person who in great part revealed the conspiracy; unless these arrests were made on account of religion, with regard to which both one and the other have a very bad name; but the result will verify the fact, as it is supposed they will be sent hither.
Very strict watch is kept round the court and over the city (per la terra) by the officials bound by command to perform this service; and the Queen still abstains from appearing in public, not having shown herself even on the very solemn festival of the Ascension. No other facts transpire beyond these arrests, save that the commissioners here continue examining the prisoners with great assiduity.
The fleet has set sail for Portsmouth with the Admiral, but the soldiers on board were few, the rest having been sent on afterwards. The return from Brussels of Lord Paget, which may be called unexpected, has wonderfully comforted the Queen, the King having sent to tell her that at the latest he will be with her by the end of next month, as confirmed by his more recent letters brought to her Majesty subsequently by the courier Francesco Piamontese; so she begins firmly to hope that thus will it be, and they are already providing and preparing somewhat, orders having been given to the persons bound to go and meet his Majesty to put themselves in array, which will now be for the fourth or fifth time. The longer his Majesty delays the greater is the indication that his stay will be the more prolonged, which, to say the truth, is requisite both for the need of this kingdom and its quiet, as likewise for that of the Queen individually.
On the day of Lord Paget's return he had two interviews with the Queen, which lasted upwards of two hours, their business being very private, and on the morrow the aforesaid courier Francesco was very unexpectedly sent back in haste. Many persons believe that this frequent despatch of couriers during the last few months relates not only to the affair of the prisoners,—it being credible that the Queen acquaints her consort with what takes place from day to day, and with the discoveries made, and that this last mission of Francesco in great part concerns Carew and Cheke,—but also another more momentous matter, and perhaps the one communicated to me heretofore (as written by me to your Serenity) relating to the Lady Elizabeth, which proceeds with very great secrecy.
They have continued during the present week, few being those in which they omit doing so, to burn male and also female heretics, all of whom, so far from evincing fear of the flames, seek them voluntarily, accusing themselves, and going to make their depositions in person, one of the individuals amongst these last having been a blind man from his birth, and another of his fellow sufferers was 70 years old; proof that the thing (la cosa) has taken root, not only with the young, but also with their elders. (fn. 9)
The summaries contained in your Serenity's letters of the 25th and 28th ulto., received at one and the same time, have been communicated, and as usual your Serenity was thanked for them.
London, 19th May 1556.
[Italian, partly in cipher; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
May 21. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 490. Federico Badoer, Venetian Ambassador with the Emperor, to the Doge and Senate.
On the day before yesterday the King of Spain sent the Marquis of Bruges (Berges ?) to Queen Maria at Tournai (Tornaut), requesting her to be pleased to return hither, both by reason of the Emperor's wish and his own to see her, as also from need of her counsel about several occurrences in these provinces, especially with regard to settling the difficulties respecting the subsidy demanded of them. She replied that being unable in any way to alleviate the Emperor's ordinary indisposition, and the King having many persons to give him counsel, her presence was unnecessary, and even should it be the Emperor's will that she come, she will do so solely for the purpose of making him a visit. According to public report this anger on the part of Queen Maria is great, and arose not only from her having been unable to obtain the town of Mechlin, but because she knows that the King does not choose her by any means to remain in these Provinces. The consequence of these disagreements is that the demand for one per cent, on immoveables and two per cent. on moveables remains undecided, and as many of the King's counsellors urge him not to withdraw it, whilst the States will not consent to it, it seems therefore that the Queen alone is capable of settling so important a matter favourably.
No fresh sign is visible of the departure either of the Emperor for Spain or of King Philip for England, save that the courtiers say it will take place next month, that the ships and troops and all things are in readiness, and that the King will be the first to depart, though few persons believe that their Majesties will quit these Provinces at one and the same time, for many essential reasons; so the Emperor will remain, and the preparation of the fleet is for the sole purpose of enabling the King to cross over to England in safety for his coronation (et che l'apparato dell' armata è solo a fine, che 'l Re sicuramente passi in Inghilterra ad incoronarsi). The secretary Verzosa, who was sent thither with the despatch and news of the arrest of Carew and Cheke, has returned, as at Calais he found Lord Paget, who took upon himself to execute his entire commission.
The French ambassador presses King Philip to give him a positive reply about the prisoners, and has again received for answer that his Majesty chooses in the first place to hear the intention of the King of France in this matter, which he hopes will be announced to him in the next letters of his ambassador at the French court. Here they have a firm suspicion that the truce will not last, by reason of the advices received of the proceedings of the French and of the Pope, who seems not only almost to have revoked the mission of Cardinals to the Emperor and King Philip and his most Christian Majesty to treat peace, but also to purpose relieving Sienna, and then to create disturbances in the kingdom of Naples.
Brussels, 21st May 1556.
[Italian, partly in cipher; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
May 23. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 491. Federico Badoer, Venetian Ambassador with the Emperor, to the Doge and Senate.
Yesterday King Philip sent in post to the Pope the Signor Ferrante de Sanguini, his Majesty's agent (ministro), and the Pope's nephew, with three commissions, the one to pray him to appease his anger against the Marquis of Sarria, and not revenge himself by causing the Emperor and the King to recall him from his embassy; the other to recommend Marc' Antonio Colonna to him; and the third to tell him openly that his Holiness' proceedings give the King constant cause to suspect that he is not well disposed towards his Majesty and the Emperor, requiring him clearly to declare his intention; and a courier having arrived last night, with the news of the investiture given to the Count of Montorio of the aforesaid Colonna's state, and of his grade, the King despatched another courier to recall Sanguini. This resolve formed by the Pope, together with other indications received here of his thoughts, cause the Emperor's and the King's couriers to say more freely than ever that their Majesties will be compelled to make a hostile demonstration against him (scoprirsi con l'armi contra), lest he choose in his own fashion either to relieve Sienna or to raise disturbances in the kingdom of Naples, and by means of the mission of Cardinal Caraffa demand and obtain from the King of France his protection for the Count of Montorio, and consequently form an alliance with his most Christian Majesty; so it has been treated here to write to the ambassador resident with him accredited by the Emperor and the King to perform an office in this matter in opposition to such negotiation, reminding his Majesty of the observance of the truce. I have also heard that in the same sitting they discussed the propriety of making divers representations to your Serenity and the other Italian potentates, in evidence of the Pope's proceedings, and of the wish on the part of the Emperor and the King to avoid war. A nobleman of these Provinces has been again sent by King Philip to Queen Maria, requesting her to come hither; and this morning his Majesty departed to go and confess and communicate during these Whitsuntide holidays at a monastery two leagues from this town, where he will also amuse himself by hunting, as he did last evening by taking part in a tourney (torneo) with many of his most intimate attendants.
Yesterday the Emperor received letters from the King of the Romans and the King of Bohemia, in which they apologize for Maximilian's being unable to come to their Majesties according to the intention announced by him, both from a fresh attack of his illness, and by reason of what they have to treat with the princes of the Empire, owing to the great trouble constantly given by them, and that they anticipate yet greater from the Turks in Hungary. On the day before yesterday there arrived here the Duke of Holstein, brother of the King of Denmark, to pay his respects to the Emperor, having heard of his determination to go to Spain, and to stipulate with King Philip the same obligation that he had with the Emperor to serve him in time of war, and to confirm his stipend; it is also supposed that they will again treat his marriage with the Duchess of Lorraine, as she has no longer hope of having the Duke of Savoy.
Three days ago the Pope's chamberlain, who took the hat to Dr. Groperio at Cologne, came hither to the Nuncio, and told him that although Groperio used fair words to him, giving hope of accepting the dignity sent to him by the Pope, he nevertheless would not do so absolutely, although the Nuncio said lately at their Majesties' courts here that he had already assumed the dignity; and it is supposed that although Groperio says he has written a letter to the Pope assigning the causes which induce him to decline this honour, it is nevertheless possible that, composing as he is certain works on theology and concerning papal authority, he may entertain some opinion contrary to his Holiness. (fn. 10)
Brussels, 23rd May 1556.
[Italian, partly in cipher; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
May 23. Dispacci Roma, Venetian Archives, No. 6. B. 492. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Signory.
Don Garcilasso [de la Vega] has returned from Naples to avoid the heat. He says the Duke of Alva is confounded by the investiture of Paliano in the person of the Duke, and yet more by the fortifications which it is intended to erect. He has written to the court about this, and will await a reply before doing anything further. Certain Spaniards of rank now here say that the Duke of Alva does not serve his sovereigns as he ought, as he has a lawsuit here with the Archbishop of Toledo involving a rental of 6,000 crowns.
The Imperial ambassador told a person in his confidence, from whom I had it, that he is certain the King of England will not permit this fortification, and he has asked advice about what he could do to make sure of the safe arrival of the next courier from the Imperial court, as he is afraid his letters may be intercepted.
Rome, 23rd May 1556.
May 25. MS. St. Mark's Library, Cod. xxiv. Cl. x. 493. Cardinal Pole to John III., King of Portugal.
As the King's ambassador Don Diego Lopes is returning to Portugal, Pole will not omit to pay his respects to his Majesty, and as Lopes will give account of what took place about the Guinea affair, concerning which the King was pleased to write to Pole, he has no occasion to allude to it farther, and it merely remains for him to offer his ready assistance in whatever may be for the King's service, as becoming his great observance and devotion towards him, although this is unnecessary, King Philip and Queen Mary being so closely linked with his Majesty by so many ties.
London, 25th May 1556.


  • 1. Juan Alvarez of Toledo, of the family of the Dukes of Alva, commonly called Cardinal of Burgos, from which see he was transferred in 1553 to Compostella. He is also styled Cardinal de Santiago. (See Cardella, and Foreign Calendar 1553–1558, Index.)
  • 2. The dinner seems to have been of three courses; I translate literally, but perhaps the dishes alone and not the tables were removed at each course.
  • 3. Violante Garlonia, who for adultery was strangled by her own brother, the Count of Aliffe, in the presence of her husband and her brother-in-law, Cardinal Carlo Caraffa, on the 30th August 1559, twelve days after the death of Paul IV., who, when he heard that the Duke of Paliano had killed her paramour, enquired, “E della Duchessa che si è fatto?” upon which hint the last act of the tragedy was completed at Jallese. (See Guerra degli Spagnuoli contra Paolo IV. da Pietro Nores, libro iv., pp. 280, 281; ed. Firenze, 1847.)
  • 4. In Mr. Turnbull's preface to the Foreign Calendar, 1553–1555, p. ix., there is the following passage, demonstrating the relationship between Sir John Cheke and Sir John Masone, thus:—“Lady Cheke's mother, the good widow Hill, had taken our ambassador for her second husband.”
  • 5. Philippe de Cröy, Duke d'Arschot, Prince de Chimay, had been taken prisoner by the French in August 1553. (See Foreign Calendar under that date, p. 4.)
  • 6. No date of time in MS.
  • 7. Captain William Staunton; but neither in Machyn (p. 106), nor in the Verney Papers, is any mention made of his having taken part with Wyatt, or of his having been pardoned on a former occasion.
  • 8. Query, Sir Walter Bucler, who in October 1552 befriended Elizabeth Tudor. (See Domestic Calendar, p. 45.)
  • 9. The burning at “Stratford-a-Bow” of four men on the 15th May 1556 is recorded by Machyn (p. 105), but he says nothing about the heroic fortitude of the victims here celebrated by the Venetian ambassador.
  • 10. Cardella (vol. 4, pp. 350, 352) alludes to the contradictory statements of Gropper's biographers, about his acceptance or refusal of the red hat, but gives no hint with regard to the probable cause of its rejection.