Venice: October 1556, 16-20

Pages 712-718

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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October 1556, 16–20

Oct. 17. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 665. The Same to the Same.
On receipt this morning of the Signory's letters of the 3rd I went immediately to the King, and informed him as ordered that your Serenity, having greatly at heart the suppression of the present stir in Italy, by means of some fair agreement, charged me to repeat the office performed by me some days ago, because by the Pope's mission to you of the Bishop Commendone you understood that his Holiness was much inclined towards peace; wherefore your Serenity, from your extreme wish for it really to take place, had despatched one of your secretaries express to the Duke of Alva in order better and more promptly to dispose him to a fair agreement, and that you prayed his Majesty, although he had previously written strongly to his Excellency as he told me, to be pleased again to charge him to make such proposals as might produce so very desirable a result as peace, and so necessary, not merely for Italy, but for the whole of Christendom, and which if effected would obtain for his Majesty, together with much glory, many of those advantages and benefits which he of his great prudence might easily comprehend.
The King, after telling me how much pleased he was that your Serenity had been gratified by those marks of goodwill towards you evinced by him to me, added that he was very glad to hear that your Serenity had sent one of your secretaries to the Duke of Alva for the purpose narrated by me, and that having already sent him such orders for the conclusion of the agreement that he knew not what to say, he was of opinion that to attain this good result there was greater need to incline the heart of his Holiness rather than that of his Majesty, and that your Serenity will hereafter know by facts that he will never fail, as his Majesty wishes you to be convinced of his desire for the peace, and to be always your good friend. Being aware, as told me first of all by Don Ruy Gomez, that the positive intention (la fermissima intentione) of King Philip was that your Serenity should be judge-arbiter, or one of your ministers a witness, I merely repeated in conclusion that I considered it certain that his Majesty would prove to the world by facts the goodwill demonstrated by him towards peace, assuring him also that by reason of this Christian purpose, and his other truly regal qualities, you would never swerve from that love and reverence which you have always borne him.
According to your Serenity's orders, I addressed Don Ruy Gomez in the same tone, and he evinced great satisfaction at being exhorted by you to be an instrument with his Majesty for effecting so holy and glorious a work, telling me in short that his wish in this matter could not be greater than it is, and that so many and such various things had been imagined about it that it was impossible to do more, and that they had written to the Duke of Alva to devise something of his own, and amongst other projects, one of the chief, which he thought the Pope might approve of, would be for the Count of Montorio to be satisfied with receiving the Principality of Salerno with 12,000 crowns revenue, his son marrying one of the daughters of Marc' Antonio Colonna, by which arrangement he might hope for greater quiet and profit than by remaining Duke of Paliano; adding that his King, in short, merely wished to be assured that his kingdom of Naples should no longer continue disturbed.
His lordship and Don Bernardino de Mendoza, who came in unexpectedly, both evinced great satisfaction at your Serenity's having sent the secretary to the Duke of Alva, saying that now more than ever they hoped the agreement would take place owing to this mediation on the part of your Serenity, who is sincere and of such great prudence and authority as you really are, both one and the other of them coming to the conclusion that they could think of nothing more serviceable for their King than this, and to keep him as closely knit in friendship with your Serenity as they can.
I reciprocated in such loving terms as seemed to me adapted to the nature (qualità) of the present times, preserving your Serenity's dignity, and giving them indication of your constant goodwill towards his Majesty.
Ghent, 17th October 1556.
Oct. 17. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives, No. 7 B. 666. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
The troops which went out of Rome with the Duke of Somma (fn. 1) to go with the French galleys to Nettuno to burn the ammunition, provisions, and bridge of boats of the Imperialists (as told me by Cardinal Caraffa), have returned without being able to do anything at all. They lay the blame of this failure to a storm which arose after they had presented themselves under the castle of that place, and as there was shoal water (e per esser spiaggia) they had to sheer off. It is said that the galleys bore the Pope's flag, lest the French be accused of having been the first to break the truce with the Imperialists.
Part of the Imperial army has approached yet nearer this city, some companies (bandere) of foot and a good number of horse being in Frascati, Marino, and the neighbouring places, not more than 10 or 12 miles hence, but so far as can be known the Duke of Alva, with the main body, has not left Tivoli.
M. de Montluc, who went out with some cavalry to reconnoitre near Marino, was charged so furiously by an ambuscade that with difficulty could he make his escape into this city, with the loss of four horses. The enemy treat the places occupied by them well, but from persons conveying victuals into Rome they take both cattle and provisions. It is not known what expedition this Imperial army purposes undertaking, and so ill-informed is the Roman government that they are scarcely aware how it is distributed, and this, in addition to so many other disorders, causes apprehension of some great disturbance, because the Imperialists, on the contrary, are acquainted with all that is done and said here, and verily on true and assiduous advices (principally in military matters) great part of felicitous events depend. The reason why during so many days the enemy's army has delayed doing so many things it might have done is said by some to be because it is expecting fresh German forces and other troops; others say that the Duke of Alva has not chosen to proceed farther without a fresh order from the King of Spain, from whom he is expecting advice from day to day. Some horsemen have arrived with 14,000 crowns raised in Venice, and 6,000 in Ferrara, for the French, as told me by the son of the host at Chioggia, who was one of those who brought it, and is an outlaw at Ravenna. Of this supply there was great need, as from want of it many orders for necessary provisions remained unexecuted, and the supply obtained lately is a compromise with the Jews, who are to pay 10,000 crowns for having transgressed some of their statutes (capitoli), one half of the sum being payable at the end of this month and the other at the end of November next; and the governor of Perugia has been written to detain the 3,000 crowns assigned for payment of the salaries of the doctors of that university. It is also said that a similar compromise is being treated with the Jews at Bologna, and which is expected to yield nearly 14,000 crowns, and that on account of the inheritance of the Lord Balduino [del Monte?] they have demanded 30,000 crowns, with a promise not to interfere with it, and 15,000 have already been offered them.
An express from France has arrived with letters dated the 8th instant, and when a person in the confidence of Marshal Strozzi asked him about their contents, he said, “They promise great things, referring themselves, however, to what will be brought by M. de St. Fermo, who is the secretary Bucchie; but the Duke of Paliano has given it to be understood that the King has ordered the levy of Switzers and the march of the men-at-arms, and every other necessary provision for the war, and that it will be waged sooner than is generally supposed, without awaiting the orders of the King of Spain to the Duke of Alva. I, most serene Prince, continue not choosing to ask about these advices from France either of the Pope's ministers or of those of the King, in order not to give them an opportunity for making fresh demands, but I nevertheless endeavour to hear what I can through various channels, being sure that my omissions will be supplied by your ambassador in France; but I will not fail telling what I have heard, although it did not reach me from an authentic quarter, namely, that the French ministers here have sounded (tentato) the Pope whether, his Holiness being old, and their King having to undertake so important and costly an expedition, and one so perilous, it would be well in some way to secure his Majesty, and that the way would be to place the four towns of Ancona, Civitavecchia, Spoleto, and Veletri in his hands.
With all this news Congregation assembled to-day in the house of Cardinal S. Giacomo, with the Cardinals appointed for the peace, with the exception of Cardinal Caraffa, and Friar Manrique was with them, the particulars of this congregation being as follows:—Two days ago Monsignor Fantuzi, auditor di Rota, went to Cardinal Carpi, in the name of the Cardinal of Pisa [Scipione Rebiba], exhorting him, as a leading Cardinal, to find some means for this peace, by calling to his presence the Cardinals already appointed for it, and urging them to effect it. Cardinal Carpi replied that he no longer knew what to do, and that he would not assume this office, which appertained rather to Cardinal Caraffa, who had so much authority and represented the Pope in person. Then yesterday Fantuzi returned to Cardinal Carpi, telling him that the Pope's nephews and the Pope himself would wish the peace to be again discussed, and thus was it settled to hold the Congregation in the house of Cardinal S. Giacomo, when, after saying that the peace was necessary, it was determined again to send Friar Manrique to renew the negotiation for peace; so as it has been said distinctly that the Pope will never do anything on condition of reinstating Marc' Antonio Colonna, it being affirmed, on the other hand, that without this condition the Duke of Alva knows that he can do nothing whatever, the Cardinal of Carpi awaits from the Pope's ministers the tenour of the letter with which to despatch the Friar Manrique. God knows what the result may be, and for what end perhaps these things are attempted, nor can any man vouch for it, it being seen at this Court that even its decrees are not executed.
The ambassador from Florence likewise does not cease taking part in this agreement, having received letters from his Duke telling him that his Excellency has heard of the Pope's conversation with him touching the goodwill of his Holiness about the peace, but that as no foundation can be formed on general expressions he charges his ambassador to endeavour to elicit something precise (qualche particular), as his Excellency will be ready to mediate, assuring the Pope that no one could treat his cause more lovingly and faithfully than he would. With regard to the suspicion entertained here about the said Duke, the ambassador says that he has made no military movement, and that on the contrary he has disbanded two companies that were in Florence, so that in that city no soldier could be found at any price.
A few days ago Camillo Orsini was on the point of demanding his discharge, having heard that he bears the blame of all the disorders which have taken place hitherto, and also because one night he found himself by chance in a place where certain Gascons were stripping a poor man, whom he rescued at some personal risk indeed, for the whole company attacked him, but subsequently the Papal ministers here (questi signori) caressed him greatly, and he received many marks of respect from the Gascon commanders, so it is supposed that he will go on temporising (che anderà scorrendo) but not very well satisfied. As part of the Imperial army has approached so near Rome, the paid soldiery, besides mounting guard in the city, keep watch by night at the Campidoglio, the aldermen (caporioni) (a certain number each time) going thither with their battalions for this purpose. Marshal Strozzi departed this morning to go and see in what state Civitavecchia is, by reason of the importance of its harbour; and it is also said that M. de Montluc is gone to Montalcino accompanied by the son of the French ambassador, who chooses to be a soldier. Here they have taken off the insupportable mill-stone tax (angaria delta masena) amounting to two crowns per “rubbio,” seeing that it was tolerated painfully; and a proclamation has been made in the Pope's name allowing the people to go out of Rome to sow; which two proceedings have given great satisfaction to the city.
The Duke of Paliano's quartan ague has become a double one, and the physicians say that to free him from it it would be necessary to remove his mental troubles and suffering.
To-day the Signor Matheo Stendardo made a muster of his mounted harquebusiers, forming four ensigns (4 stendardi), part in armour (armati), having a spear besides the harquebuse, and part with only a harquebuse without armour (disarmati). They are in fact about 200, though it was always said that they would be many more, and for such they will perhaps be paid.
The Archbishop Sauli, late treasurer, was this evening imprisoned in the Castle, he having given bail not to quit Rome, as written by me.
Rome, 17th October 1556.
Oct. 18. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 667. Federico Badoer, Venetian Ambassador at Ghent, to the Doge and Senate.
By a second courier from Laredo it is heard that the Emperor had already set out for Valladolid with the Queens, with the intention of remaining there a few days to see his daughter [Doña Juana] and his grandson [Don Carlos], and then proceed to the monastery of Yuste, near Plasencia. Certain Spaniards, however, say that to benefit the affairs of his son his Imperial Majesty will be compelled to stay a longer while than he intended, on various accounts, and for this one in particular, that he may send for some of the grandees of Aragon (alcuni principali di Arragon), or despatch some one thither, to send them, together with delegates from Valentia and Catalonia, to take the oath to the King, they not having chosen to do so hitherto to avoid derogating from their privileges, which compel his Majesty to go to them in person. According to letters from M. de la Chaux, his Imperial Majesty is in better health than he has seen him for the last 10 years.
By several advices received from Brussels it is understood that to quiet the people of Brabant, the Duke of Savoy, with the chief members of the Council there, had determined to appoint two of each trade, they to be persons the best acquainted with his Majesty's demand, and to give them authority to decide about it. His Excellency also writes to the King that it has been suggested to him as a necessary measure on account of the religion, which is in a bad way (che va a male), to found three bishoprics, one for Brussels, another for Antwerp, and a third for this city, and that he has found an easy way for providing them with revenues.
A gentleman of these provinces who came yesterday from Cologne says that the election there of the Prince Bishop was being delayed (si andava differendo), and it was supposed that almost as a matter of necessity one of the canos of the most noble blood amongst them, but of Lutheran opinions, would be elected, because the other Catholics had not sufficient interest to succeed like their competitors, who were favoured by the Elector Palatine, the Duke of Cleves, and the Landgrave of Hesse, and other Princes of the “Circle” of Saxony.
King Philip has sent an order to Upper Burgundy to have a demand made of the people there for 50,000 crowns, which they are accustomed to pay every three years.
The Duke of Florence has again sent his ambassador several complaints made by the Siennese against the Cardinal of Burgos [Francisco Mendoza y Bovadilla], reminding his Majesty that should his right reverend lordship remain Governor there, the King might run risk of losing his popularity at Sienna, whilst on the other hand the ambassador of that Republic at this Court bestows great praise on the Cardinal, saying the “Signori della Balia” had written to him that since he has been Governor there he has spent about 50,000 crowns of his own on several good works; so it is inferred that between the said Cardinal and the Duke of Florence there must be a bad understanding, and consequently his right reverend lordship evinces a wish for removal in like manner as his Excellency does not wish him to remain, and for this reason it is said that in a few days the King will send thither Don Alvaro de Sande, (fn. 2) who was heretofore appointed by his Majesty warder (castellano) and colonel of the Spanish infantry.
Some days ago Don Ruy Gomez requested the ambassador from the Duke of Mantua to write to his Excellency and exhort him to take for wife the eldest daughter of the Duchess of Lorraine, his Majesty's cousin, and the Duke replied that he did not intend to marry, as at present he is not of strong constitution (per non trovarsi di complessione al presente ben disposta), showing that on this account he had renounced the contract (partito) with a daughter of the Duke of Ferrara. The Duke also desired the ambassador, should anything more be said on the subject, adroitly to silence it, and I understand that this decision, and much more the one formed by his Excellency to make terms with the King of France about Montferrat with regard to his enjoying its revenues, has caused the privy council here no longer to evince their former trust in him.
Ghent, 18th October 1556.
Postscript.—It is said by Don Bernardino de Mendoza that the Governor of Caino (sic) has placed under arrest 100 soldiers and their captain for having announced their intention to the French of giving them one of the gates of that place, and for this purpose, at Montreuil, four leagues from Hesdin, there are some 6,000 troops including horse and foot.
I have also heard that an express has been sent to Don Juan de Ayala (fn. 3) at Genoa, desiring him to proceed instantly to your Serenity to reside with you until the return of the Ambassador Vargas.
Oct. 19. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 668. Giovanni Michiel, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
By the return of Francesco Piamontese and of another courier who was sent after him with the news of the Emperor's landing in the port of Laredo on the 28th ult., the Queen was again assured that the King was making his arrangements to come back, having already given orders for the stable, the pages, and part of the household to proceed on their way; so the Queen is marvellously comforted, these advices having redoubled her hope, though, with the exception of her Majesty, there is nevertheless no one, either in the palace or out of it, who, knowing the difficulty and inevitable impediments, and not seeing greater signs, anticipates anything but delay and dilatoriness, although the ships have been already sent to the Calais passage (al passo di Cales).
Peter Carew has come out of the Tower, and is released entirely, after having compounded (dopo haver accordato) for 2,000 marks, and paid a part of his debt to the crown. The governess of the Lady Elizabeth has also been set at liberty, but deprived not only of her office as governess, but forbidden ever again to go to her ladyship; the knight [Sir Thomas Pope], who was placed as keeper in her residence, being also removed; and it is said that she will soon come to London, and perhaps to the Court.
A debt from the Queen, to the amount of 40,000l., having fallen due in Flanders last month, the merchants adventures of London had to pay it, and relieve her (pagarle et liberarla).
The last advices of the 4th instant, received by Cardinal Pole from the Abbot [Parpaglia] in France, confirm the hope of peace, should the affairs of Italy with his Holiness come to an adjustment, as sought, he says, by the French, and that notwithstanding all the provisions making for war, it had been determined to hold another conference, the most Christian King on his part having already made choice of his commissioners.
London, 19th October 1556.


  • 1. The Duke of Soma, being a Papalist, had been outlawed from Naples by the Imperialists. (See Foreign Calendar, “Mary,” p. 262.)
  • 2. See name in Foreign Calendar, 1553–1558, p. 323.
  • 3. Query, brother of the historian Don Luis de Avila, the name being written indifferently, Avila or Ayala.