Venice: August 1556, 16-31

Pages 569-588

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.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. All rights reserved.


August 1556, 16–31

Aug. 17. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 579. Giacomo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Yesterday I went to visit the Legate. He commenced a long discourse about the plots formed by the Imperialists against his Holiness, saying that, as he told the Abbot of San Saluto yesterday morning, his Holiness (if the Emperor and his most serene son showed themselves really anxious for peace), could he find means for making sure of their goodwill, would return to his original purpose, and show himself desirous of the quiet of Christendom; and he had elected six right reverend cardinals, who, together with all the ambassadors, were charged to discover this mode of security; five of them being of the Imperial faction, and the Cardinal de Bellai alone of the French party; wherefore should his most Christian Majesty choose to drive a hard bargain, he might complain of this, as although the decision about the proposals rested with his Holiness, yet could he not be pronounced an Imperialist for adhering to what five cardinals his delegates counselled him. He added that in the Pope's name he had made four proposals to the most Christian King; the first about the Council, the second concerning the peace, as he had already informed me; and that the reply then given by his Majesty by word of mouth was now made in writing also, and will be read in Consistory.
The other two proposals related, the one to the adjustment of the affairs of the benefices of this kingdom, which were all arranged, and the other to the appointment of an inquisitor against the heretics; to which the King replied that he quite approved of this, but being of opinion that one alone could not suffice for so vast a territory, he thought it would be well to name one for each bishopric, and that he should be, a native, which his right reverend Lordship said he hoped the Pope would admit. He added he had found similar goodwill in his Majesty for the defence of Holy Church, for which he had offered him all the forces of his kingdom, together with his own person; and also touching the defence of the Caraffa family, having taken it under his protection, the King promised him to defend it. Here the Legate expatiated at great length on the reasons which had induced the Pope to invest the Duke of Paliano with that state, saying that as his Holiness would not alienate Church property to give it to his kinsfolk, so if he gave them that of rebels, no one ought to take it amiss.
The Legate also said, “Should the Emperor not molest us, we on our part will make no farther stir, but if he moves he will meet with opposition of a different sort to what is anticipated by him, and to tell you the whole, he does not fail disturbing every thing, having even endeavoured to detach the Duke of Ferrara from his most Christian Majesty, but he still keeps faith, though he misbehaves himself by not settling his affairs completely with the King. He no longer demands infantry, but that his salary (provisione) be increased from 24,000 crowns to 50,000, and the men-at-arms; and by the Duke's ambassador the King sent to tell him that he will give him the 50,000 crowns, leaving him at liberty to keep the men-at-arms or not. I do not know whether the Duke will accept these terms, although I sent him one of my gentlemen to urge many reasons for his acceding to the agreement, which if not made before my return to Rome, I shall endeavour to conclude by making the Pope contribute something of his own, as these Imperialists must at any rate know with whom they have to deal.”
Morette, 17th August 1556.
[Italian, partly in cipher; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
Aug. 18. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 580. Giovanni Michiel, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Will not deviate from my usual custom of writing every week.
In the very place where the [false] proclamation of the Queen's death was made (fn. 1) (nel luogo proprio dove fu fatta la publicatione del proclama che la Regina fusse morta); two of its chief authors were hanged, (fn. 2) including the parish priest there, and both died with great demonstration of repentance and acknowledgment of their error, confessing that hey had fallen into it from their bad opinions about religion. The others, as many as 12 in number, have been brought hither to the Tower.
The brother of the pirate Killigrew, and six or eight of his chief comrades, have also been removed from Portsmouth to the Tower, where some persons pretend they have been tortured (tormentati), and on their account certain prisoners who had their liberty in the Tower have been confined. Killigrew's father, who is a wealthy gentleman, has offered to pay all those who have suffered loss from him, hoping thus more easily to obtain his pardon, though it is not believed that this will profit him much.
The Queen has been unwell lately, both from the great heat, the like of which no one remembers, as likewise owing to some mental vexation (qualche dispiacer di animo), and not having yet quite recovered, she has chosen to change her residence, and to-day went eight miles hence to Croydon to a house of the most illustrious the Legate.
The day before yesterday that Spanish gentleman whom the King said he would send, arrived express, and was sent back with the same haste. He confirmed the King's coming after the departure of the Emperor; so the Earl of Pembroke has been appointed to go and receive him at Calais, Lord Paget at Dover, and Cardinal Pole here at Canterbury (et l'illustrissimo Legato di quà a Canterbury); but nothing has been yet settled about his right reverend Lordship, although he solicits and desires it in order that he may have to remain at his Church. The immediate despatch of this gentleman, who during the two days of his stay had several long conferences with the Queen together with Don [Juan de] Figueroa, (her Majesty on Sunday, the day of his arrival, that she might attend to his despatch, having omitted to go to vespers in the chapel, which she is not wont to do without some great impediment,) has caused a belief that he has been sent on business, rather than for this mere mission about the King's return; but nothing further can be ascertained about this.
London, 18th August 1556.
Postscript.—I am informed that the Lord Treasurer has been sent for, to make arrangements (it is supposed) either at Dover or Portsmouth, where the Emperor is expected, the Queen intending by all means, if possible, to see his Imperial Majesty there.
Aug. 20. (fn. 3) Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives. No. 6 B. 581. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
Relative to the warlike preparations of the Imperialists and of the Duke of Paliano, and to the fortification of Rome.
Rome, 20th August 1556.
Aug. 22. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives. No. 6 B. 582. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
Cardinal de' Medici told my secretary that in the penultimate Consistory, the Pope having asked him what he thought of the affair of Ascanio della Cornia, he replied, “ Ill, Holy Father, and I suspect that each day will bring us worse tidings, should those disturbances continue;” and when the Pope said that he had a number of soldiers and good troops, the Cardinal replied that his Holiness must neither rely on them nor allow them to take the field, as they would be routed by the mere sight of the enemy, for that since the coming of Charles (VIII. ?) into Italy, never had an army, composed exclusively of Italians, been seen to gain one single battle, because they know not how to use the pike; and as the Imperialists have much foreign infantry, both German and Spanish, and 800 men-at-arms, and 2,000 light horse, whilst his Holiness has a bare 500 very sorry jades, he therefore lacked the means for resisting the enemy in the field; and consequently of the three faculties of war (le tre parti c'ha la guerra), namely, attack, resistance, and to remain reciprocally on the defensive, the two first were denied him, as with the troops he has, his Holiness cannot invade the kingdom of Naples without the certainty of their being cut to pieces; and should the Imperialists choose to advance, he could not prevent them from being masters of the open country, and consequently of the defenceless towns, such as the majority of those in the papal territory; whilst the third resource, of remaining mutually on the defensive, was no less injurious to his Holiness than the other two, as he would be compelled to incur intolerable cost; whilst the Imperialists can hold their own with the troops paid by them even in time of peace. To this the Pope said, “What would you have me do if these heretical tyrants compel me to act thus?” The Cardinal rejoined, “Holy Father! I would that an agreement were negotiated, and that your Holiness should make some slight concession (li mettesse un poco del suo), to prevent such great and universal mischief.” Thereupon the Pope said, “And should this ensue, shall I be the cause of it?” Cardinal Medici replied, “When a person can provide, and does not do so, I know not what to say; I should indeed regret to have it recorded by historians, that in the reign of your Holiness, a Pope of such exemplary life, a war and schism broke out, such as had not happened in the time of popes, who, to say the truth, led foul and evil lives (pontefici di mala e sporca vita).”
On hearing this his Holiness could no longer contain himself, and said, “You have this day caused me dissatisfaction, but these words do not proceed from you; the tyrants are those who make you utter them; but we will deprive them of their realms and empires as schismatics.” Cardinal Medici made answer that he would neither affirm nor deny that the Emperor was schismatic, though he indeed would say that this privation might bring it to pass, that instead of one schismatic kingdom, all the Emperor's realms might become so, they forming two thirds of Christendom, and that it does not suffice to deprive, as in the next place force is required to effect the privation. The Pope in a great rage then said, “You also are schismatic; speak out (dite sù), if you have anything to say against me.” Cardinal Medici replied that, perceiving the Pope to be too angry, he would say nothing more, but that should his Holiness choose to listen, he will always tell him the truth in his own chamber, as he is neither a flatterer, nor interested, like the persons about his Holiness. He then went and sat down; and says he fully expected to be sent to the castle, as the Pope never took his eyes off him.
When consistory was dismissed, Cardinal Medici went to the Duke of Paliano, and narrated to him what the Pope had said, requesting his Excellency to represent to the Pope that, if he did not choose him to speak freely for the common weal, for that of the See Apostolic, and especially for that of the Caraffa family, that his Holiness should be pleased to assign him a residence, and that he would obey readily. To this the Duke of Paliano replied, that rather than be the cause of so many inconveniences, he would prefer being deprived of the duchy, and even of his life. Thereupon Cardinal Medici said, “My lord, you are to be a duke; it remains for determination whether the duchy is to be this of Paliano, if possible; and if not, to exchange it for Camerino; and I promise you to make the college consent to this, and that we will give it you with all the votes unanimously.” The Cardinal said, moreover, to my secretary, “The Duke did not dislike my proposal, but nothing farther has been said to me about it. I can do no more, and am certain that in the confessional I have not to reproach myself with having failed in my duty; for I have said without scruple that which no one else had the courage to say; anticipating abuse, and even blows (botte) and imprisonment; for after all, the Pope himself in the end will wish me well for it, knowing that I spoke for his advantage, and that of this See Apostolic, and not for any private respect of my own.”
Rome, 22nd August 1556.
Aug. 22. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives. No. 6 B. 583. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
To-day at 2 p.m. went to the Pope, who announced the return of his messenger Domenico del Nero from the Duke of Alva, who treated him kindly and expressed goodwill towards his Holiness. Having listened to the Pope's solemn protestations of his wish for peace, replied that besides the other causes which made me hope for peace was the desire displayed by his Holiness for the “reformation” (reforma), which was so ardent that even in the midst of the present troubles, he yesterday in consistory had issued certain orders to that effect. His Holiness replied most amiably (tutto pieno di dolcezza), “Yesterday we put our hand to the root of a too flagrant impiety, namely the 'accessi' and 'regressi,' etiam invitis dominis, tantamount to sending those poor prelates to the slaughter-house (al macello). And whilst on this topic we will tell you a joke of a waggish courtier, who threw himself at the Pope's feet, asking him for a large benefice held by a very famous man. The Pope replied, How can you ask this favour of me when we know that the benefice is not vacant, its incumbent being still alive? whereupon the gentleman said he wished to tax the abuses of the court, adding, Holy Father, do but give me the benefice, and leave to me the care of rendering it vacant. With regard to which matter when we received the 'regresso' of our Archbishopric of Naples (fn. 4) without knowing anything about it, we induced Pope Julius to repeal all the 'regressi' conceded sine consensu [of the incumbents ?]. He declined doing so with regard to all benefices in general, but repealed those of the cathedral churches, and we were then told by a very worthy cardinal, that they had done a most holy work, as there were cardinals who had as many as 40 'regressi;' so now, when we have the power, we will not allow it to escape us. All the 'accessi' by whomsoever given, and be their clauses what they may, have been revoked and cancelled by us, so that word no longer exists; and yesterday when speaking about this matter we inveighed against the 'regressi,' issuing a mandate for the cardinals in Rome to give a list (una nota) of those they have within a fortnight, those who are absent from Rome but in Italy within a month, and those who are out of Italy within three months; and on receiving these particulars, should any person be found to have more than one, we shall say, It is improper (non sta bene); take one of them, renounce the others; and when it comes to the point of the 'regresso,' we will compel them to keep but one benefice, either that of the 'regresso' or the one held previously. And thus will we go reforming by degrees, nor do we choose the devil, with all the designs projected by him, to prevail against this good work, as this is, building for one's self a house in heaven; and we have commenced with ourselves, suppressing almost entirely the 'datariato,' which yielded us so great a revenue, in order that when we shall come to the others, they may not be able to say that we do it to enrich ourselves, seeing that at a moment the most critical which could befall us, we deprived ourselves of such vast income, not because we did not know that we had need of it, but because we could not take it without committing the sin of simony. Should we be able to call the Council, as we hope to do speedily, we will accomplish all at once and well, as where many sages are gathered together, things are done better. Should it, however, be difficult to convoke, we will propose the questions to the cardinals (daremo li quesiti alli Cardinali) whether such a dispensation, such an absolution, or such an office be saleable. They will not be able to speak against the truth, and were they to do so, we would commit them to the Inquisition as heretics; and thus do we hope in God to go reforming, without that fear which other Popes had of dying of hunger, for we do not distrust the goodness of God, which has always assisted us. When we came to your city we brought neither gold nor silver, nor property of any sort; you gave us shelter and you gave us bread, with so much charity as not to choose it even to be known who gave it us; and now that we are here, were we to apprehend its failing us, we should deserve to be punished by God for entertaining such a fear, as we have even experience of this, for incurring such extraordinary expenditure as we do (all of which, however, is necessary) in troops and fortifications, so that we spend upwards of 70,000 crowns per month, yet have we no lack of funds, and our revenues on the contrary have all increased, not from the prosperity of the times, as owing to the scarcity of everything it ought to be the reverse, but because our eyes have been opened; nor have our kinsfolk chosen to do what the nephews and relations of other Popes did, taking bribes for leasing the revenues of the Church so much below their value; and although according to the proverb every man thinks his own wife the most chaste of any, yet does the fact prove that these nephews of ours might have kept this augmentation for themselves, and that they did not do so.”
After the Pope had listened to the perusal of the news-letters from Constantinople discussing the power of Sultan Soliman, he blamed the Imperial ministers for provoking him, and said that should a Turkish fleet come into these waters, the King of France could not be accused of having sent for it. He then complained of the bad policy of the Christian Princes, who gave just cause to fear that one day or other the Turk will do the rest (il Turco non facci il resto), his forces being innumerable, and that what he once gets possession of he never loses. In conclusion, his Holiness spoke at great length about the Emperor's departure for Spain, and the withdrawing (retirata) of the King his son to England, it seeming to him that at no time more disadvantageous for his interests than at present, nor with a greater demonstration of weakness, could the Emperor have determined on departure, unless perchance it conceal something unknown, both to his Holiness and others.
For many months I have never heard the Pope talk more reservedly than to-day, so it is possibly true, according to the advices from France, that Cardinal Caraffa despairing of obtaining what he wanted from the King, as the Constable opposed it, Caraffa had recourse to the Cardinal of Lorraine, who made him speak with the King (l'abboccò col Re), and they said so much that his most Christian, Majesty consented to give a levy of Switzers, and to make a certain pecuniary deposit.
Rome, 22nd August 1556.
Aug, 24. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 584. Giacomo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Legate left Morette on the 17th instant, and will embark at Toulon, avoiding Marseilles on account of the plague. A friend of mine, his confidant, told me that he spoke with Cardinal Caraffa before his departure, and found him joyful, his Lordship saying he had so urged the most Christian King and the Constable that they promised positively to make the deposit at Venice, the money being put in a place under two keys, one of which to be kept by the Pope's commissioner, and the other by his Majesty's nominee, with an express declaration that the money is to be spent solely for the defence of the Church and of the state of Paliano; and whenever any portion of this deposit shall be abstracted for the purposes aforesaid, one and other of those princes will be bound within a certain period to make good the deficit, so that the 500,000 crowns will always remain there, but in deposit. For the sake of encouraging the King to take this step he had proposed to him the means for obtaining the money through the merchants on very fair terms; and the Pope likewise on his part was prepared to supply his quota. The Legate added that his most Christian Majesty had promised him to keep twelve of his galleys in the harbour of Civitavecchia, according to the Legate's request, and that he had fair hopes that after his landing, those which conveyed him would remain there. Thus he said he took with him the announcement of the deposit, a firm promise of the galleys, and that the Switzers should be ready whenever needed, so that for the entire grant of all he desired there merely remained the 300 men-at-arms, but, although the King makes a difficulty about conceding them, the Legate trusted that should circumstances require the passage of the Switzers, his Majesty will be compelled to send the said men-at-arms likewise.
All these things have been confirmed to me through another channel, with the exception of the mode whereby to find money for the deposit, I having been unable as yet to discover either that particular, or in whose hands the money is to be placed; but notwithstanding these apparently defensive preparations in case the King of England molest the Pope, reports are nevertheless in circulation of an offensive attack next year, the rumour resting on certain words uttered by the Constable which might be construed in this sense; in addition to which, precise orders have been sent to every part of the kingdom to levy the royal revenues and enforce their payments, which has strengthened the aforesaid opinion.
The day before the said Legate departed he sent for the Abbot of San Saluto, and told him that he knew the commencement of his negotiation about the peace between these Princes, and also knew that he was expecting a reply from Brussels, but by advices which he, the Legate, had received from that court, the delay of its transmission proceeded from M. d'Amont [Simon Renard], the Imperial Ambassador here, who had performed two evil offices against him; first, he forwarded the letters very late and open, and then wrote to the Emperor and King Philip that they must not trust Parpaglia, as his bias was French, and that he merely sought to elicit information from Brussels for the purpose of imparting it to this court; but that the Bishop of Arras, who of late shows himself hostile to d'Amont, took the Abbot under his protection, and by demonstrating his good qualities discredited the aforesaid ambassador, so that Caraffa believed they would soon answer Parpaglia. And here the Legate commenced saying how anxious the Pope was for this peace, provided things proceeded with true effects (con veri effetti) and without fraud, and that he, the Legate, in his Holiness name, promised if the Imperialists laid down their arms that the Pope would do the like; and as he knew that they felt aggrieved by the fortification of Paliano, they must dismiss that from their minds, as his Holiness chose by all means to complete it, but that if the Imperialists would come to a real adjustment, they would find the Pope excellently disposed to satisfy them by merely keeping there such a garrison as was required for its necessary defence, and which could not give any suspicion of attack. In reply, the Abbot, after greatly commending the disposition of the Pope and the Legate, offered to write about this to Brussels, at his Lordship's command, and the Cardinal requested him so to do, assuring him that he would find his deeds and words to correspond, and that on receiving a reply he was to give him notice; and with this Parpaglia went to Paris, intending to write to Ruy Gomez.
Morette, 24th August 1556.
[Italian, partly in cipher; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
Aug. 25. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 585. Giovanni Michiel, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The landing of the Emperor in England, about which there is much discourse amongst the multitude, is verified solely by conjecture and opinion. It is true that orders have been sent to provide victuals and refreshments at certain ports of this Channel, such as Dover and Portsmouth, off which the fleet must necessarily pass, so that should it put in there, from lack of wind or from foul weather, or any other accident, it may be conveniently received and provisioned; in which case, should the place where it might arrive prove suitable, the Queen would perhaps go thither for an interview with his Imperial Majesty, and thus, so far as can be known at present, it would take place accidentally and casually as a thing done and caused on the sudden, and not as arranged and concerted beforehand. Her Majesty indeed chose the Admiral to re-embark on board the seven ships which remained armed, and to put to sea to meet the fleet and join it, to give convoy as far as the Emperor might please, though with the intention that the said ships might also serve for the King's passage hither, but she subsequently determined, so great is her anxiety (gelosia) and desire for the coming of the King, regardless of expense, to have the others fitted out expressly for his Majesty's passage, so that on arriving at Calais he may not be prevented crossing should he have to await those of the Admiral, but at any rate find these already awaiting him; and to-morrow or the day after the Earl of Pembroke and Lord Paget are to go thither to receive him, the Lord Treasurer and the Bishop of Ely doing the like at Dover, but the departure of these last is more uncertain than that of the others.
What I wrote doubtfully (fn. 5) about the money which the Queen sought to borrow is now verified by the fact, her Majesty having sent freely (liberamente) to the lords and gentlemen, the wealthiest and best provided (pià riechi et commodi), letters [privy seals] in which is specified the precise sum demanded of each of them, according to what the individual may be supposed able to bear, and I am told that the least is 40 pounds sterling, her Majesty urging all of them to exceed their means, availing themselves of their property and credit to raise the sum required by her, as she is in great need, and compelled to supply herself with funds to enable her to quell the insurrections to which she is daily subjected. This mode of request has seemed the more strange and vexatious to everybody, as it is unusual and unprecedented (innusitata et insolita), the device being attributed to the suggestion (consiglio) of the Spanish lords, in order, as said by them publicly, that the King may make use of the money; so it seems that all (although it be untrue) apologize under pretence of being overwhelmed with debts; but opposition will be of little avail, nor in the end will any one dare obstinately to resist her Majesty's desire. (fn. 6)
Since the execution of the authors of the proclamation in Suffolk, (fn. 7) of whom a schoolmaster was the ringleader, reports circulate about a certain other individual, a captain from the other side of the Channel (capitanio di là dal mare), an arch-heretic well acquainted with Germany, where he is known, and he is said to have had an understanding with the schoolmaster and his accomplices, as entertained by him actually with the emigrants (transfugi) and rebels abroad. This person for his greater security lives for the most part in the forests in England (in queste selve), and hiding himself there, he every now and then with great audacity appears in one town or another, sometimes disguised as a peasant, sometimes as a wayfarer, sometimes as a merchant, and sometimes in one garb, sometimes in another, so as not to be tracked and recognised, finding out all those whom he knows to be suspected, and of the same mind in the matter of religion, preaching to them and encouraging them to remain firm and constant, as they shall soon hear and see great and powerful personages, who will come to replace them in their religion (a rimetterle nella loro religione) and free them from slavery; after the performance of which persuasive offices, he immediately disappears, retiring into the country and the forests (selve). In many places orders have been given to keep on the watch to capture him if possible, spies being posted for this purpose in the forests (boschi), and they hunt him with bloodhounds, as is done to wild beasts and beasts of chase (come si fa alle fiere et animali di caccia).
London, 25th August 1556.
Aug. 25. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 586. Federico Badoer, Venetian Ambassador with the Emperor, to the Doge and Senate.
Don Martino Alonso, who arrived here yesterday, sent me two packets of letters from your Serenity, one dated the 8th, the other the 10th instant, so I sent immediately to demand audience of the Emperor and his son; and this morning, when received by King Philip, I told him I was commissioned by your Serenity to let him know what great satisfaction you had derived from the loving congratulations and confidential announcements made to you in the Emperor's name and his Majesty's, by the said Don Alonso and the ambassador Vargas, assuring him that you reciprocated these sentiments, and saying how readily you had written to the Pope urging him to find means to obtain quiet not only for Italy but for Christendom; adding that I was charged to pray his Majesty to persevere in his natural inclination for peace. He replied that the accounts received from Don Martino and the ambassador Vargas had so convinced him of your affection that he was extremely satisfied, and that you would always find him your good friend; the expression of his countenance when giving this assurance convincing me that he was really much pleased with the replies given to Don Martino, and with what your Serenity had done. He then began telling me, with great familiarity, that the Emperor purposed departing for Zealand to-morrow, and would send for me and the other ambassadors to dismiss us; and in the act of my taking leave he thanked me for the good offices which Don Martino told him I had performed, as confirmed by the letters of the ambassador Vargas.
To-day I went to visit Don Bernardino de Mendoza, expecting also to find with him (as I did) the said Don Alonso, his nephew. Don Bernardino said to me apart he thought a greater union must be formed between the King and your Serenity, because the Pope would declare himself unfriendly to you, and purposed giving the port of Ancona to the King of France, through whose intervention he would make the Turkish fleet harass your Serenity. He said letters had arrived from their Majesties' ambassador in France purporting that the King told him he would not fail to observe the truce, although from his confederacy with the Pope he could not fail succouring him; and that by letters lately received from England from the Queen and the members of her Council, he hoped that should the King of France not keep the truce, the Queen would declare war on his most Christian Majesty for the benefit of her Consort. Then taking in his hand a lengthy despatch, he told me it was an agreement which would soon be concluded with the delegate from Peru, in the name of the feudatories there, from whom the King would obtain so considerable a sum of money, that he will be able to defend himself not only against the Pope but also against France, and any other power, if requisite; and the feudatories, provided they obtain permission to dispose of their lands and effects (robbe) to their heirs and successors, will bind themselves within three years to pay eight millions of gold, binding the King to render the [Peruvian] revenues independent of Spain (con obligare il Re a disimpegnare l'intrate della Spagna). In my reply I endeavoured to give him satisfaction, and went immediately to Don Ruy Gomez to make the same impression as on the mind of the King with regard to the resolve announced by your Serenity to Don Martino Alonso, the said Don Ruy Gomez being the person to whom alone the King confides everything; and after performance of this office, with which he seemed well satisfied, he said the King would desire his ambassador to thank your Serenity for your intention of writing to the Pope to dispose him to peace. He told me besides, that the French Ambassador had never answered him whether his King consented, as he said he would, to appoint your Serenity arbitrator of the disputes between their Majesties; and that yesterday the said ambassador sent him word that being indisposed, he could not come to see him, saying that if he wished to talk about the peace, towards which he saw him of late disposed, he would willingly discuss it; Don Ruy Gomez remarking to me that he considered the message a feint, and that the ambassador did not really entertain any such wish, but that he nevertheless purposed going to see him.
Ghent, 25th August 1556.
Aug. 27. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 587. Federico Badoer, Venetian Ambassador with the Emperor, to the Doge and Senate.
This morning the Emperor appointed all the ambassadors to go to him in the afternoon; and speaking to each of them separately, he said he was determined to depart for Zealand to-morrow, and await fair weather for his passage to Spain, whither he purposed going, knowing himself to be no longer adapted to the management of the affairs of the world, and that he wished to serve God with his mind at peace. To the Siennese Ambassador, who was the first, after narrating to him several things which had taken place between his Majesty and that Republic, he said he had left the care of it to his son, when negotiating with whom he would find him most lovingly disposed towards it; and the ambassador, who told me himself that he had received this commission, added thrice, with a sigh, “Good God! what has the King of Spain to do with Sienna? and when will His Divine Majesty have mercy on our sins?” The second was the ambassador from Florence, who told the Emperor that not one of his true servants counselled him to take this departure, especially in the midst of such great troubles as Italy is threatened with by the Pope, and which will consequently occur in many parts of Christendom; wherefore the Duke his lord, as his Majesty's most faithful servant, felt great discontent at it. The Emperor replied that this was not injurious either to the Duke or anyone else who had relied on his remaining here, as what the King his son, young, robust, and absolute master, might be unable to do, could still less be effected by him, he being now old and feeble, and divested of all power. The Nuncio followed next, remaining but a short while with his Majesty, and came forth very melancholy; nor has it been possible to ascertain what he said to the Emperor, nor what his Majesty replied; and from what his auditor has told me, the Emperor did not send for him, but the Bishop of Arras, as of his own accord, let him know his Majesty's resolve to dismiss the ambassadors, adding that in case he had any office to perform in this matter for his own satisfaction, he was to let him know; so the Nuncio sent to tell him (as he had informed the Bishop some days previously) that he also wished to perform this office of taking leave of his Imperial Majesty; the Bishop of Arras thus showing that the giving the Nuncio audience did not proceed from him.
After the Nuncio, I was introduced to his Majesty, and seeing him pause in expectation of my commencing the conversation, I represented to him in your Serenity's name what I told his most Serene son about your reply to Don Martino Alonso, and the precise words used by his Majesty in reply were as follows: “Ambassador! I have heard from Martino Alonso the loving demonstrations made to him by the Signory, and their goodwill with regard to desiring all happiness for me and the King my son; and it seems to me that they have taken the good road by writing to the Pope to dispose him to peace and quiet, and if they continue performing this office, as you have told me, the Pope will have regard for them, and will abstain from playing the mad pranks he does, owing to his extreme old age (et si rimoverà di far delle pazzie che fa per esser molto vecchio), which may be said to have arrived at second childhood;” repeating to me several times these words, “That he was indeed old, and that in the midst of so much mischief this was a blessing;” adding, “Ambassador! with yourself personally, and with the good offices which I know have been performed by you at this court and with the Signory, as written to me by Francisco Vargas, and told me orally by Martino Alonso, I remain very well satisfied, and wish you during your stay with the King my son to persevere in the same sincere disposition as evinced by you hitherto. To-morrow I shall depart for Zealand, there to await fair weather for my passage to Spain, to live in repose, and serve God as I ought; and shall always remain with that goodwill towards the Signory which I always have borne them, and which I promise on behalf of the King my son.” I replied that willingly would I have completed the term of my legation with his Majesty, and have followed him both to Spain and to any other region whither he might have gone, not merely in obedience to your Serenity's commands, but from my own election, considering it great good fortune for me whilst serving the most serene Republic, to reside with an Emperor who, from so many heroic virtues, such very exalted conditions of fortune and so many undertakings heretofore so gloriously achieved by him, had very great fame in the world; but since it was his Majesty's firm will to withdraw himself entirely from worldly pomps and actions, and to make this voyage, I prayed the Lord God to grant him the grace to enjoy a very long life in the utmost prosperity, and to enable him to keep his mind in that great and secure, nay sole, repose which is attained by those who serve Him without guile, as I should believe his Majesty would do; (fn. 8) and that he might indubitably take with him this satisfaction, that what I had assured him of your Serenity's goodwill, and of your respect for him and the King, would always be verified by good operations for the future, such as he knew had been effected on past occasions; and humbly thanking him on my own private account for his opinion of my sincere mode of proceeding, I said that I had also to thank my good fortune for enabling me, whilst obeying your Serenity's commands, to render myself agreeable to his Majesty, of whom I then took leave, which was conceded me with loving and hearty words and gestures. The Ferrarese and Mantuan Ambassadors followed, being both called at the same time. To the one from Ferrara, when the complimentary phrases were ended, he spoke rather resentfully of his Duke, by reason of the many and divers things done by him to the prejudice of King Philip's territories by adhering to his enemies, saying he wished the ambassador to let him know that he nevertheless did not believe everything, and that it was no less for the Duke's interest to have the King for his friend than it was advantageous for his Majesty to be on good terms with his Excellency; and to the Mantuan Ambassador he spoke in honourable and loving terms, calling the Cardinal his “good friend,” and Don Ferrante “a faithful creature” (fedel creato). The Portuguese Ambassador was the last to take leave of the Emperor, with whom he remained a short time, nor have I heard anything farther.
I visited the most serene Queens, making them offers in your Serenity's name, and wishing them a very prosperous voyage, &c., and was answered lovingly, especially by Queen Maria, who really seemed to think—such was the opinion of all the personages of these courts—that she was being addressed by the representative of a sovereign who, in these times, is sincere, and their Majesties' good friend.
Ghent, 27th August 1556.
[Italian, partly in cipher; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
Aug. 28. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives, No. 6 B. 588. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
To-day at audience, in reply to my usual panegyric on peace, the Pope replied, “We have told you that our most earnest wish is for a good peace, and those who think otherwise of us think what is false, and the blessed God knows it; but the mischief is that we cannot ever rely on the Imperialists; we know them too well, and how ambitious they are of universal empire, and that they cannot keep what they hold in Italy except by tyranny and force, gnawing the vitals and drinking the blood of the poor, as they do; so we cannot tranquillise ourselves until rid of this plague; and may God forgive those who have let them commit so many impieties (pie (sic) [impietà?]; we are doomed to mourn the sins of others; Patres nostri comederunt uvas acerbas, et dentes filiorum obstapescant; but we will not fail to do our duty, viderint delude alij, quid eis conducet. We well know that when a neighbour's house is on fire every man must look to his own, lest the flames reach it; and we know that the Republics of Greece, each looking with delight on the conflagration of the other, without doing what it ought to have done, they were all consumed. Here there is no occasion to await greater or more manifest signs of their avidity, and desire to seize this city, and consequently the rest. Besides the sack of Rome, of which Charles denies having been the cause, and says he knew nothing of it, although his having kept the Pope and cardinals for 11 months in the castle of St. Angelo deprives him of this excuse; did he not, when he returned from Africa by way of Sicily, come to this city to make himself master of it? but Paul III. armed cautiously, and moreover succeeded in thwarting the design of Charles, who then contented himself with proclaiming his challenge to the King of France in Consistory, and having made it appear that he came for this purpose, he departed; having ever since, with the same intention of occupying the Papal States, supported those little traitor-curs of his (quelli suoi cagnoletti traditorelli), of whom we have rid ourselves; which touches him to the quick, as by securing ourselves hereabout (d'intorno) we deprive him of this accursed hope. Our predecessors have spent rivers of gold to exalt their bastards and nephews, and on other things, which displeased both God and man, and then brought ruin on their families. Would to God that the money had been expended in securing the Papal States and this city, on which we are intent; we a poor, decrepid old man, and compelled as we are to incur such great expense for soldiers, we are intent on fortifying the Castle and Borgo, and by God's assistance, and through the diligence of Camillo Orsini, who is a great captain, and skilled above all things in military architecture, we shall be in a state of defence, but by earth-works, which in the course of time it is our intention to face with masonry (s'incamiserà) the plans being already made for fortifying Trastevere likewise, and the whole city; so it may be said that there will be three fortresses connected one with the other. For this fortification the Romans contribute willingly as it is their safeguard, and from thence will ensue the enlargement of the city, which when strong will have a dense population; this being a government which resembles that of the Republic, where those who have certain means, and lead a good life, may be sure of enjoying them; for if a Pope does some mischief occasionally, the one who comes after him conducts himself well, if but for the sake of doing the reverse of his predecessor; nor in the next place is there anyone, let him be of what country or condition he may, but can have great hopes in Rome; besides the convenience of the site, and its vicinity to the sea; and as the population increases, the revenue both public and private will augment, as exemplified by your Venice; and we were told of yore when there, and we believe the amount at present to be greater, that the city alone yielded six hundred thousand crowns, whilst the entire kingdom of Naples, when not manipulated (quando non era maneggiato), produced no more, and therefore paid the church a tribute (censo) of 60,000, which was the tithes; but now they make it give more than two millions, and pay a hackney and seven thousand crowns per annum, in virtue of that dispensation of Leo [X. A.D. 1519] allowing it to be united to the Empire, contrary to the order of our most holy predecessors, who had great foresight. From this so much mischief ensued that it may be said, Dominumque potentem imposuit. Hence came the ruin of Italy, and the miserable sack of Rome. Now to tell you the whole, we shall continue to secure this city against being the prey of whoever may choose to come to it; about which, when speaking with Cardinal S. Giacomo, he told me that this fortification, precisely as we are constructing it, was predicted by the most blessed widow St. Brigida, to whom our Lord Jesus Christ vouchsafed to turn his face, as you must have seen by the crucifix in St. Paul's, which turns its face and eyes towards the place where that blessed woman stood in the act of adoration. Her visions were acknowledged, Cardinal Torre Cremata having been appointed to investigate them. (fn. 9) On hearing this from Cardinal S. Giacomo [Juan Alvarez de Toledo], we determined to see the revelations, and sent for the book with the chapter marked.”
Talking thus, he took it up, and keeping the book closed, he said, “Before you read the paragraph we will tell you, in verbo veritatis, that had we read it previously, we should perhaps not have entertained this thought, lest the world might say that we realized it in order to be considered the Pope who is foretold in that passage; but as the work has been commenced and is so far advanced, and this fortification being so necessary, we will continue it, for the sake also of not slighting the favour of God, for to confess the truth to you, after reading this, we were much satisfied and comforted, seeing the fortification described precisely as we intended constructing it.”
With these words the Pope opened the book and gave it me, that I might read the paragraph, of which—indicating so clearly as it does the present fortification, which any person who knows the situation of “Borgo” will comprehend, and also to increase his Holiness' satisfaction—I asked him for a copy, to send (as I do with this despatch) to your Serenity. The Pope sent immediately for writing materials, and told my secretary to copy the passage, during which operation he asked me how the plague went at Venice, evincing great wish for the city to be quite rid of it. I told him things remained as they were, and that the fear of plague was perhaps greater than the disease itself, and that I hoped in God it would soon disappear. The Pope replied, “May He, the glorious and blessed, grant this of His goodness, and for the welfare of all Italy!”
When the paragraph was copied the Pope had it read to him, and said, “We will not omit to tell you that the houses which Saint Brigida says will be round the walls, have been already destined by Camillo Orsini for the soldiers, so that by remaining apart they may not inconvenience the city;” and after I had taken leave he added, “Offer the Signory our heart, replete with love and paternal good-will for her;” and when I asked him whether the Duke of Alva's envoy would remain long here, he said, “He will await our reply, which we shall give him in due season, and after mature consideration, although what he said to us was of very little importance.”
Rome, 28th August 1556.
Aug. 29. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives. No. 6 B. 589. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
Don Pirro dell' Offredo, whose arrival I mentioned in my letter of yesterday, went to audience on Thursday, accompanied by some 30 Roman horsemen, sent by the Pope as a mark of honour. He waited until 7 p.m., when the congregation of the Inquisition adjourned, and was then admitted to his Holiness, with whom he was heard to speak boldly, and they raised their voices to such a pitch that Misser Paulo (fn. 10) was obliged to close the wooden doors that they might not be heard outside. This gentleman was seen to depart much exhausted and enraged, and when one of the Roman cavaliers, his friend who had accompanied him, asked whether he brought peace or war, he replied, “Whichever the Pope pleases.”
The letter from the Duke of Alva to the Pope, which was brought by Don Pirro, narrates very diffusely all the things done and said by his Holiness against the Emperor and King Philip, commencing with the time when he was Cardinal down to the present hour, showing that the Pope had no cause to do so; and that neither his Princes nor he, have the slightest thought of waging war on the See Apostolic or on his Holiness; but owing to this distrust, and seeing the Pope arm so stoutly, he prepared for defence, but with the intention (should means be found for trustworthy quiet, about which he referred himself to the Potentates of Italy, and principally to your Serenity and to the College of Cardinals) of giving entire satisfaction to his Holiness. I am also told that Don Pirro has another letter for delivery to the College of Cardinals, with orders to visit them, and that he has already been to the Cardinal “Decano.”
The French have at length sent a messenger with news of the resolve formed by the King of Spain about the affairs of Piacenza, which Cardinal St. Angelo [Ranuccio Farnese] announced yesterday evening to the Duke of Paliano, praying him to make it known to the Pope in the best form he could. The Duke said he dared not, but this afternoon he made the announcement, which enraged the Pope beyond measure; but the Duke sent to Cardinal St. Angelo, who seemed in great distress, telling him to be of good cheer, as his Holiness holds him guiltless in this matter, but implies that his brothers are in the worst possible odour. Here this step is considered of very great importance on many accounts, most especially as it is expected to increase the difficulty of effecting any adjustment of the present disputes. (fn. 11) It is said that King Philip restores Piacenza, but retains the citadel, giving back Navara (fn. 12) to the Duke, and Monreale to Cardinal [Alessandro] Farnese; he keeps the Duke's son as hostage, and allows the Duke to outlaw the murderers of his father from his dominions; but chooses them to enjoy their revenues there until Duke Octavio make them compensation through the revenues of Madama [Margaret of Austria, natural daughter of Charles V., and consort of Duke Octavio] in the kingdom of Naples, and certain feudatory fortresses in the Parmesan territory are to be destroyed.
Rome, 29th August 1556.
Aug. 29. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 590. Federico Badoer, Venetian Ambassador with the Emperor, to the Doge and Senate.
Yesterday at about the vesper-hour, the Emperor's departure took place in a litter, for a palace distant a league and half from the sea, on his way towards Zealand. Almost the whole court went forth to accompany his Majesty, including the King, who is still with his Majesty, he having sent back all the others into this town, whose deputies, before he went away, made him a present of twenty-five thousand crowns for the voyage, many of the inhabitants having wished previously to kiss his hand as also did the members of the privy-council, the last of whom to perform which act was the Bishop of Arras, he throwing himself on his knees in the street before the litter, his countenance evincing great sorrow for this departure, as manifested indiscriminately by the discourse of all the ministers, everybody saying, as Don Ruy Gomez and Don Bernardino de Mendoza said to me, that they found no other reason that could induce his Majesty thus to do, except his having said he would do so; concerning which expression Don Ruy Gomez told me again that he had great hopes that perhaps the Almighty will not choose him to go, that the weather may become foul, or his Majesty have a sharp fit of the gout. He also said that this voyage was contrary to the wish of the King; and that without transacting business the Emperor might well remain in these parts, where he would have been able to render great assistance to his most serene son by authority and counsel.
Yesterday the Nuncio received a courier with a brief from the Pope, desiring him to take leave of their Majesties and to return with all speed to Rome. He performed the office enjoined him with the King alone, and will depart in a week, having circulated a report that the Pope would send some one else in his stead, which, however, is not stated in the brief, but he says he had it in private letters, though no one believes this; and it is generally said that the Pope chose to recall him independently of other respects, seeing that he wrote and negotiated in a form the reverse of what his Holiness would have wished; and he complained to me of the bad character given him as being too staunch an Imperialist, vowing that in his letters all he aimed at was to preserve the peace.
Ghent, 29th August 1556.
Aug. 29. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 591. Federico Badoer, Venetian Ambassador with the Emperor, to the Doge and Senate.
Demands his recall, and assigns the reasons which entitle him to it.
Ghent, 29th August 1556.
Aug. 29. Senato Terra, vol. 40, p. 127, Venetian Archives. 592. Embassy in England.
Twenty-eight months have elapsed since our beloved noble Zuan Michiel has been ambassador with the Queen of England.
Put to the ballot, that election be made of another nobleman as successor to the said Ser Zuane.
To be eligible from any place and office, and the person elected may not refuse, under all the penalties contained in the Act of 1536 against those who refuse embassies to crowned heads; and besides the four months' salary in advance, which will be given him here, as usual, by the cashier of our Council of X, be there given to the agents left here by the said ambassador 180 golden ducats per month, so that our Signory may not incur any loss on this account by reason of the exchange; and be he bound to depart within the term appointed by the last act of this [Council] and the Grand Council which regulates the election of ambassadors; and with such commission as shall seem fit to this Council.
Ayes, 41.
Read to the College on the 25th May 1556. Read again on the 21st June. Read for the third time on the 3rd July. Read for the fourth time on the 28th August.
Aug. 30. Original Despatch. Venetian Archives. 593. Giacomo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The most Christian King, wishing to carry into effect the promise given by him to Cardinal Caraffa, has desired the agents of the Guadagni firm at Lyons, who trade under the name of Caponi and Rinuccini, to provide 290,000 crowns to make the deposit in Venice, sending them the securities (li assegnamenti), with interest at the rate of 16 per cent, as usual; and the residue required to complete the sum of 350,000 crowns promised by the King is to be placed to the account of the 60,000 crowns, which the Pope has already had for his necessities.
Morette, 30th August 1556.


  • 1. This shows that a letter written by the ambassador on the 11th August is missing. The place here mentioned seems to be Yaxley in Sussex, where one Cleobury personated the Earl of Devon, and in the church there proclaimed “the Lady Elizabeth Queen, and her beloved bed-fellow, Lord Edward Courtenay, King.” (See Lingard, vol. v. p. 246, ed. London, 1854.)
  • 2. Cleobury was executed at Bury in September 1556. (See Strickland's Elizabeth, p. 117.)
  • 3. No date in the original, but the letter is placed between those of the 15th and 22nd August.
  • 4. According to Cardella, vol. 4, pp. 166, 167, it seems that Gianpietro Caraffa obtained the reversion of the see of Naples in 1549, but did not obtain possession of it until 1551, in the reign of Julius III.
  • 5. Probably in the missing letter of the 11th August.
  • 6. The decipher is imperfect, but the ambassador's meaning is, I think, correctly given in my text.
  • 7. I do not know in how many counties Cleobury's proclamation was made.
  • 8. Come mi daria a credere che faria la Maestà sua.
  • 9. The crucifix in relief, to which Paul IV. alludes, was carved by Pietro Cavallini, a painter, sculptor, and mosaic worker, born 'at Rome in 1259, and who had Giotto for his master. According to the vulgar tradition the crucifix “spoke” to Saint Brigida in the year 1370, a quarter of a century after Cavallini's death. This Saint Brigida, who is said to have been a princess of Sweden, must not be confounded with Saint Brigita, the Irish Abbess of Kildare in the 5th century. The “Revelations” of Saint Brigida, after being sanctioned by the Spanish cardinal, Torquemado (alias Torre Cremata), who died at Rome in 1468, were published at Nuremberg in 1521, and at Rome in 1557, which last edition was probably suggested by the fortifications described in this letter.
  • 10. Misser Paulo Barona, alias Consiglieri, was “Maestro di Camera” of Paul IV., and one of the most virtuous men of his Court. In March 1557, the Pope gave the red hat to his brother Giovanni Battista de' Consiglieri “di Casa Barona,” as appears in a despatch from Navagero, dated Rome, 20th March in that year.
  • 11. The date of the treaty whereby Philip II. made over Piacenza to his brother-in-law, Duke Octavio, is not given by the Venetian ambassador; but by the “Foreign Calendar, Mary,” p. 271, it appears that the surrender of Piacenza was made in the third week of October 1556.
  • 12. Marquisate of Navara, see p. 603.