Venice: September 1556, 6-10

Pages 601-605

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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September 1556, 6–10

Sept. 6. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives. No. 7 B. 603. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
[First invasion of the Papal territory by the Imperialists.]
Captain Flaminio della Casa arrived this morning from Paliano express, with news that yesterday, at 6.30 p.m., Ascanio della Cornia with three cornets of horse invaded the Papal territory, stripping the company of Trentacoste-da-Camerino, capturing the captain and ensign (the company being on its march from Poffi (sic) to Veruli), and Poffi and another unimportant place surrendered themselves. The Duke of Alva is at Ponte Corvo. The Urbino troops are now marching out of Rome, and it is said that Gio. Anto. Torazzo, who in Ascoli, will be ordered to make a diversion in the Imperial territory.
Rome, 6th September 1556, 2h. 30m. p.m.
Sept. 7. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 604. Federico Badoer, Venetian Ambassador at Ghent, to the Doge and Senate.
The French ambassador, having received a courier from France, went immediately to the King, telling him that his most Christian Majesty, having heard that the Duke of Alva had got free commission to attack the Pope, suggested two things for the consideration of the King of Spain before the Duke proceeded to extremities, the one being that he offended God by offending His Vicar, the other that he thus gave cause for breaking the truce, the continuation of which seemed impossible, as the King of France chose to assist the Pope, the King of Spain, on the contrary, being determined to harass him; so he must not be surprised if in Piedmont, Corsica, and on these frontiers his King make such provision as usual on suspicion of war.
His Majesty replied that the abusive language uttered by the Pope, and what he had done against the Emperor his father and himself, had before now given cause for sending such orders to the Duke of Alva; that by now moving with reason against his Holiness he did not believe himself to be committing an offence against God; and that with regard to the truce, having sworn to it religiously, he would observe it inviolably until compelled by necessity to do the reverse, in which case he hoped, with God's assistance, to preserve his own States and injure those who sought to injure him.
The ambassador performed the same office with Don Ruy Gomez, who made him the same reply.
A courier also arrived yesterday from Spain with letters from the Princess, the Emperor's daughter [Regent of Spain], and from his sister the Queen of Portugal, purporting that the Turks and Moors had taken a citadel near Oran, of which fortress they give a bad account, as by sea it is blockaded by 40 Turkish galleys and 20 other vessels, and the Moors surround it on land.
The Queen's letter is written in very strong terms, expressing regret and surprise that neither of their Majesties should have taken to heart the transmission in due season of the necessary supplies, and that what the Catholic King conquered with so much difficulty (fn. 1) should be so easily lost.
These advices also announce the preparation making by M. de Vendôme on the borders of Navarre for the recovery of that kingdom, which the Spaniards consider a manifest proof of the intention of the King of France to break the truce, and since the arrest of Don Antonio de Zuñiga the French have seized four or five other honourable Spanish gentlemen.
Several letters brought by this same courier mention great mortality in Seville from pestilential fever, and scarcity of grain at Granada and other places in Spain, where wheat cost from 8 to 10 ducats the “som~a” The inhabitants of Aragon request the King to send them an Italian viceroy, not choosing any longer to be governed by a native of Castille. The Bishop of Arras has gone to Zealand, Queen Maria having sent for him. Queen Eleanor has a violent fever, and all I hear of the Emperor is that he will make the voyage with the first fair wind, and that he has sent for a good quantity of biscuit, much of the supply shipped lately being exhausted. The King will not go to him, the weather having ceased to be favourable for his passage.
Ghent, 7th September 1556.
Sept. 8. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 605. Giovanni Michiel, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Abbot of San Saluto writes to Cardinal Pole that the affairs of the peace between the Emperor and King and his most Christian Majesty are proceeding so as to promise hope of adjustment.
The Queen, thank God, is so well that for several months she has not been better, as, besides health, her cheerful mien (which was not the case previously) shows that she is very sure of her consort's speedy return, this having been confirmed to-day by the illustrious Legate, on the authority of advices which have made both one and the other entertain this belief, though hitherto private letters, on the contrary, allude rather to delay and procrastination.
London, 8th September 1556.
Sept. 9. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 606. Giacomo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Ambassador from Ferrara returned to his most Christian Majesty, and so brings back word that his Duke seeing the difficulties raised by his most Christian Majesty in fulfilling the agreement conceded him, he believed it for his advantage not to exceed the terms proposed him by the King; and as his Majesty thinks it detrimental for him to execute the aforesaid agreement, he remains content.
There arrived subsequently Signor Eucherio San Vitali, sent to his most Christian Majesty by the Duke of Parma, with the agreement stipulated between the King of England and his Duke, to the effect that the King gives him Piacenza and its territory, reserving the Castle, whose garrison will be paid by the Duke; and he also restores that part of the Parmesan territory which was held by his Majesty, the Duke being bound to destroy the fortresses there, with the exception of Borgo-San-Donino, and having permission to keep any amount of garrison he pleases, both in Parma and Piacenza, the Marquisate of Novara being also restored to him, the Bishopric of Monreale to Cardinal Farnese, and all her revenues to the Duchess; his Excellency's son going to reside at Milan, with a promise that they will give him for wife one of the daughters of the Duke of Florence. The Signor Eucherio then added that the Duke had commenced this negotiation about a year ago, but that it was never on the point of adjustment until within the last month, as his Excellency had informed his most Christian Majesty, who might rest assured that the Duke, remembering the many benefits received from him, would never do but what was agreeable to his Majesty, and that, in this resolve, he had merely promised the King of England to be neutral.
The most Christian King answered San Vitali that the Duke by commencing this negotiation a year ago had acted contrary to the treaty with him, which stipulated that he could not commence any agreement without acquainting his Majesty with it; the treaty being in like manner vitiated by the conclusion of the agreement, which, according to the articles of the treaty, he could not effect without his Majesty's leave; that his Majesty knew that had not Hironimo da Campeggio been so seriously indisposed at the court of the King of England, the resolve would have been formed even sooner; and that with regard to the offers made by the Duke, his Majesty would not give any further reply for the present, awaiting facts. San Vitali rejoined, that as to the treaty he did not know its particulars, but respectfully besought his Majesty to remain with his mind at ease for six or eight months, until he should see what might be done by the Duke, who wished to be his servant.
San Vitali spoke afterwards with the Constable, who reproached him greatly with the many obligations which ought to have bound the house of Farnese to his Majesty, his discourse evincing some anger; and when performing similar offices with other personages of the court, Cardinal Chastillon [Odet de Coligny] spoke to him openly, and said how ungratefully the Duke had behaved to his Majesty, with many other words showing how much cause the King had to be angry; the which Cardinal being the Constable's nephew (nepote), and much in his confidence, it is inferred that he would not have uttered these words unless by his Excellency's will.
This resolve formed by the Duke is held in great account, and is supposed to have been principally caused by Cardinal Farnese, who for some time has not been trusted by this court, because the most Christian King having preferred the Cardinal of Ferrara to him, both for the protectorate of this kingdom, as also in the affairs of the Popedom, he evinced dissatisfaction; and the Constable has said repeatedly that his right reverend lordship is too ambitious; the Cardinal on his part having some time ago intercepted letters written by the Constable to Marshal Strozzi when he had the command in Tuscany, desiring him not to trust the said Cardinal, all which causes are supposed to have irritated him. But be this as it may, this resolve is held in great account; and it seems that all his most Christian Majesty's designs about the affairs of Italy are impeded, as he must not only form fresh projects for those of Tuscany, which are supposed to be in danger, but also for those of Rome and Piedmont, though as yet the only visible resolve is that shortly before the arrival of San Vitali, a courier from Ferrara having already brought the news, an express was despatched privily to Rome, and it is believed that the Pope will make some stir against the Farnese family, whose servants here believe it, as they say that when Cardinal Farnese quitted Rome he dropped some hint of this negotiation to the Pope, who then seemed to commend it greatly, but subsequently, on hearing that it was drawing to a close, his Holiness uttered very bitter words against those lords; and his most Christian Majesty will perhaps even urge the Pope to form some resolve, it being believed that at any rate the King will adjust (concorderâ) the Ferrarese treaty; and that he has, moreover, commenced treating secretly to bring over to his allegiance the Cardinal of Mantua and the Duke, and Don Ferrante likewise, but the negotiation is considered very difficult. A secretary of the aforesaid Cardinal Farnese has come to perform the same office with the King as San Vitali, and as when his Majesty gave him the bishopric of Cahors it was said that if at any time an opportunity offered for him to get back Monreale, he was to resign Cahors to his Majesty's Keeper of the Seal, reserving a pension on it of 2,000 crowns, he has now sent to make the aforesaid resignation.
Morette, 9th September 1556.
[Italian, partly in cipher; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]


  • 1. For an account of the taking of Oran by Cardinal Ximenes in the year 1509, see Prescott's “Ferdinand and Isabella” (vol. 2, chap. 21.).