Venice: October 1556, 26-31

Pages 748-763

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, 26–31

Oct. 26. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 681. Giovanni Michiel, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Queen sent one of her household to Dover, where the King's pages and stable (stalla) arrived two days ago, to conduct them hither; his Majesty's armoury having also arrived, as likewise some Spanish shopkeepers, who follow the court, to put their shops in order; and as this is the first sign witnessed, it has greatly rejoiced this entire city and the people, chiefly on account of the profit which from past experience they all hope to make.
By letters from the court of King Philip dated the 19th it is heard that your Serenity has mediated for the agreement between the Pope and his Majesty, on which account couriers had passed to and fro in haste between your Serenity and the King. Words cannot express how much this has rejoiced the Queen and Cardinal Pole, and how anxiously they hope that, through your Serenity's authority, the agreement may take place, which besides the other good effects relating principally to England, and to the Queen in particular, would be that of removing all the impediments to the King's return. On behalf of her Majesty, Cardinal Pole caused earnest inquiry to be made of me whether I had received advice of this, or knew any particulars about it, and the answer I had made to him was that by private letters to my address all I knew purported that the Secretary Capella had been sent to the Duke of Alva.
Last week four of the wealthiest aldermen of London died, and as many more are in danger.
London, 26th October 1556.
Oct. 26. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 682. The Same to the Same.
Encloses postage accounts from the postmasters in Flanders and London from 16th August 1554 to 26th October 1556, and his secretary's charges (4l. 8s. 6d.) for conveyance of news-letters to the court, forming a total of 419l. 1s. 9d., for which sum he has drawn on the Doge's brothers, to whom he requests the money may be paid, and he will present the receipts on his return.
London, 26th October 1556.
Oct. 27. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 683. Giacomo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
On the 24th I announced the departure of the Count de Chalon (Schialan), and subsequently I heard that after Marshal de Brissac had said to him what I wrote about placing Paliano in the hands of the College of Cardinals, the Count communicated it to the Spanish Ambassador, who approved of the plan, and also that he should go to his King; but he persuaded him first of all to speak in his name on the subject to his most Christian Majesty and the other lords of his Council; so having gone to the King and told him the Ambassador's wish, his Majesty answered him that as he proposed this to him in the Ambassador's name, he (the King), also commended it, and, without seeming to know that the Marshal had spoken to him about this, told him that if he pleased, so far as he (the King) was concerned, he might go; and having in like manner spoken with the Constable and other lords, he departed. The Abbot of San Saluto [Vincenzo Parpaglia] who never ceases keeping these negotiations alive, informed the Nuncio of the cause of the gentleman's departure, to discover of his own accord whether this office pleased him, and he found that the negotiation for agreement pleased him, but not the condition to place Paliano in the hands of the College of Cardinals. He said, indeed, that he believed that if the forces were withdrawn, the Pope would refer himself to his most Christian Majesty about all his disputes, and this the Abbot wrote off immediately to Don Ruy Gomez.
I have also heard that after the office performed by me with his most Christian Majesty, with regard to the peace, he immediately communicated it to the Nuncio, having him told as it were underhand, that the office had taken effect and that your Serenity deserved great praise for it; so yesterday the Nuncio went to the King, and talking to him as of himself, both for the Pope's interest and for the See Apostolic, as also for his own personal advantage, he being outlawed from Naples, told him that although he believed that the Pope would always be content with any negotiation and conclusion of peace which pleased his most Christian Majesty, get nevertheless, understanding that some arrangement circulated (andavano intorno qualche partito), he prayed the King well to consider the interests of his Holiness, and not to proceed to anything which could do him any detriment. To this his Majesty replied that he was by all means determined not to fail the Pope, but that a certain discourse about agreement having been proposed to him, he did not think fit to omit giving ear to it, but he would never do anything without communicating it, and without having regard for his Holiness' interests.
The King, however, did not say anything to him about his expecting Don Ruy Gomez, nor about the departure of the Count de Chalon (di Schialan); and, indeed, I have got scent of a certain thing, namely, that his most Christian Majesty has some suspicion of the Pope's making an agreement for himself (che sua Santità non si accordi da se stessa), which he would not approve of; his Majesty wishing to be the person through whom the adjustment may take effect, in order to keep the Pope his friend, which, as I wrote to your Serenity heretofore, made him despatch a courier to his Holiness to let him know the provision making by him for the war, and exhorting him to reject the terms of agreement proposed by the Duke of Alva, so that they might be negotiated here with greater dignity and advantage. Nor will I omit telling your Serenity that a friend of mine, in whom I can place full trust, tells me that he had a long conversation about these Papal negotiations with the Marshal de Brissac, and that his Excellency told him that he did not see any legitimate cause for the Pope's depriving the Colonna family of their State, and that therefore he considered this war unjust, and consequently that his most Christian Majesty ought not so readily to send his forces for this protection, and that now his Majesty also was of the same opinion; so although having promised his aforesaid protection to the Pope he was compelled not to fail him, and had therefore formed the resolves made for the war, they neverthelessproceeded very slowly, in order so that in the meanwhile every effort might be made to effect an adjustment between the Pope and the King of England; and speaking about the cause of the Count de Chalon's (Conte di Schialan) going to his Majesty, he said, “My belief is that it would be well to give back their State to the Colonnas, give some compensation to the Pope, and quiet everything;” and he asked my said friend what recompense he thought could be given. The reply was, that he saw nothing better than Camerino, and to give the Church as recompense the protectorate of Sienna, with the whole State held by it when a Republic, on condition that the Church obtain from it as much as is now yielded by Camerino, besides the salary of a Cardinal-Legate, and for the rest, that the Siennese may live at liberty like the city of Bologna.
The Marshal seemed greatly pleased with these terms, and said that he would mention them to his most Christian Majesty, adding also that in the royal council they had discussed the means whereby to conclude the general peace with the Catholic King, according to the arrangement proposed by the Abbot of San Saluto, and that he, Brissac, was of a different opinion to the Constable, who argued that it would be more advantageous for the King of France to accept Piedmont for his second son the Duke of Orleans, and to leave the Milanese for the Duke of Savoy, rather than to give Milan to the Duke of Orleans, and Piedmont to the Duke of Savoy; but that he, Brissac, objected to this, nor had his most Christian Majesty as yet formed any decision. I have also heard through another channel that in like manner as the said Marshal has hitherto been the chief person who exhorted his most Christian Majesty to make war, so is he now completely joined with the Constable, and they have so persuaded the King in favour of peace, that it has been settled not to fail performing every office to adjust the Pope's quarrel (differentia), in order not to have occasion to wage war, although the Guise family are firmer than ever in the contrary opinion. The Marshal dislikes, perhaps, to see the Duke placed over him in Italy as his Majesty's general, whilst Guise on the other hand commends the war in order that he may have greater opportunity for aggrandizing himself and his house; it being thus evident that the affairs of these princes are ruled by private interests.
Twenty captains have been sent to raise troops in Gascony and Provence, each of them receiving as usual 100 crowns and their commissions (patenti), though they are not yet known to have had any money with which to pay the recruits, but it is said that on arriving in those provinces funds will be assigned them. They have been despatched owing to news received here that the German troops which went lately into Italy were marching to embark at Spezia, though it is not known whither bound, some saying that they will join the Duke of Alva, others again supposing them destined for the Duke of Florence.
Paris, 27th October 1556.
[Italian, partly in cipher; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
Oct. 28. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives. No. 7 B. 684. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
I understand that a few days ago Cardinal Caraffa sent to request Cardinal Santafiora [Guido Ascanio Sforza] to have an interview with him about the present disturbances, and they have already held two secret conferences in a church not very far from Montecavallo, whither Cardinal Caraffa had betaken himself on account of his indisposition, the which church is called San Lorenzo in Palisperno. The particulars, which I have ascertained through two very trustworthy sources, are that Cardinal Caraffa, having expressed his desire to see an end put to these difficulties, said he thought he could not find a better mediator than the said Cardinal Sta. Fiora, who told him, in reply, that although he had cause to be dissatisfied with the Roman Government (di questi Signori), yet being nevertheless a Cardinal, and partial (affettionato) to the Caraffa family, he would not refuse any charge given him, and the result was that they were to send to the Duke of Alva one Dom. Alessandro Placido, a great confidant of Cardinal Sta. Fiora, to let him know the wish of these Lords (di questi Signori), which could never take effect on the terms proposed heretofore, and that therefore thought should be had for fairer terms of peace.
This Alessandro Placido, on his return, reported that the Duke of Aiva would propose such conditions as to prove his goodwill, and that he wished these lords likewise to let themselves be understood, about which Cardinal Caraffa (as told me by these intelligencers) is consulting and writing his intention, having also hinted to Cardinal Sta. Fiora that an adjustment might perhaps be made even by reinstating Marc' Antonia Colonna, as Caraffa's brother, the Duke, showed so little ambition, and such anxiety for quiet, that he did not choose any regard to be had for him. What I write is a very great secret, and through the same channel I hope in like manner to hear the sequel, and although quite contrary to the Pope's words, and to what was written by me, I am nevertheless sending off an express to let your Serenity know it immediately, and add that one of the two intelligencers who told me what I write said, besides, that although the French offered what is said, they possibly made the offer hoping to get the Papal towns mentioned by me, and with the project to get a great number of Frenchmen and Italians, their creatures, made cardinals, which, seeming too much to these lords (che parendo troppo a questi signori), they are very secretly attempting this mode of agreement, or else endeavouring thus to gain time in order that the promised assistance may arrive opportunely.
As it is my defect not to be far-sighted, I am accustomed to give information, and not to discuss it, which is to divine, and especially in those courts where many things are done which by right ought not to be done. On the day before yesterday there arrived here the reverend Dolfino, Bishop of Lesina, (fn. 1) Nuncio to the King of the Romans, and he dismounted at the apartments of Cardinal Caraffa, with whom he remained a long while, and on that same evening spoke with the Pope for upwards of an hour. Next day he came to see me, and said his journey to Rome was caused by the affairs of the religion in Germany (in quella provincia), which are in the worst possible plight, so the King of the Romans sent him to tell the Pope this, and that the present war afforded great opportunity for these tumults, whereas peace would allay them entirely, or in great part; and he said that when he had a better opportunity he would give me more especial account of many other particulars.
Then, at 1 a.m. yesterday morning, letters arrived from the Court of King Philip addressed to Cardinal Pacheco, and although their contents are as yet a very great secret, I nevertheless hear from a person who has it from his right reverend lordship's own lips, and is much in his confidence, that the King writes to him to try at any rate to adjust the affairs of the Pope, who, being the head of Christendom, it is quite fair that he should have some advantages over other powers, and that, as a Vicar of Christ, his proceedings should not be scrutinised so minutely. He said that there is, moreover, a letter from the said King to Cardinal Caraffa, so bland and loving that he hopes to win and make him his own; which having been communicated to me with the same secrecy as observed by the Cardinal with regard to my intelligencer, I cannot fear its being in any way divulged, and by so much the more as through the same channel I expect to learn many secret and important details.
At Paliano there has lately been discovered a plot formed by Giulio Orsini's cupbearer (coppier), who had an understanding with a captain and ensign of a company, which was to consign a gate to the Imperial army, the cupbearer simultaneously poisoning his master, Signor Giulio, who had the custody of that gate, so that the soldiers, finding themselves without their commander, might either be unable to make resistance or not know how to do so. The cupbearer has been hanged, as also the captain and ensign. One Captain Moretto, a favourite of Strozzi, has gone off with one of Strozzi's galleys, because, having sold some of the galley slaves, he was apprehensive of punishment from the master.
Yesterday, at 5 p.m., the Signor Camillo della Riccia, having gone for his amusement, with three horsemen, to see a certain dovecote beyond the gates of Rome, fell in with three of the enemy's light cavalry, who wounded him on the nose, and had he not been well mounted he would have been made prisoner, as was the case with his companion, one Captain Antonio da Mantoa, who was formerly in the service of Vallerio Orsini at Padua, and lately left Frosinone. On that same night Count Baldissera Rangon, Camillo Orsini's son-in-law, having gone out with his company, numbering about 60 horse, and some other captains with their companies, amounting in all to upwards of 120 cavalry, besides the harque-busiers on foot, for the purpose of making an ambuscade, they encountered 300 horse of the Count de Populi, which having charged and routed them, they rallied in a valley near Ponte Molle, six miles hence, where the aforesaid Count Rangon was captured, and some 80 cavalry, with all the infantry, which confirms the general belief that whatever is arranged and done here is all divulged (che quanto si ordina et opera de quì tutto si risappi). According to report the army is still where it was according to my last, and the cold weather caused by the late northerly wind (besides the reasons assigned heretofore) is supposed to prevent advance, its present position being sheltered by the woods. The Duke of Paliano's indisposition becomes daily more serious, and he passed last night so badly that his whole family was alarmed. The French ministers hold daily consultations with Cardinal Caraffa, and yesterday an express was sent to France. The late French Ambassador here, M. de Vason (sic), came to take leave of me in very gracious language; his successor, M. de Selve, (fn. 2) being very much occupied, I have been unable to present my compliments to him.
The reverend treasurer has resigned his post to the reverend Cennj, a Roman chierico di camera, who is supposed to be worth 200,000 crowns. He is very ill from gout, and can do but little, though it is said the duty will be performed for him by one Busotto, who is much experienced in contracts and similar schemes.
Whilst writing this I have received letters from my brother giving account of the graciousness shown me by the most excellent Senate, which, adhering to its natural custom, always supplies the need of its servants, for which I will endeavour to show myself not ungrateful by serving it faithfully and diligently, as I have done hitherto, never having any other object than your Serenity's public dignity and that of the most illustrious Republic, my country.
In the act of closing my despatch I hear that the brother-in-law of Aurelio Fregoso, Bartholomeo dal Monte, having gone out of Rome to-day with his company, numbering some 50 horse, as his scouts assured him that the “Campagna” was safe, was attacked in the rear by the enemy's cavalry, which captured him and about 20 of his men, the rest having saved themselves as well as they could.
Rome, 28th October 1556.
Oct. 29. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives. No. 7 B. 685. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
The Signor Camillo Orsini having come to-day to see me at my house, said, “I, knowing the most serene Signory's ardent desire, not only to enjoy peace at home, but also to obtain it for others, and being certain (as I said the other evening) that the best and sole mediator to adjust the present most important disturbances is the Venetian Republic, as asserted by me to those with whom I had occasion to speak long before his Sublimity interfered in the matter by sending this Secretary of his here present, have come to tell your Magnificence a respectful suggestion of mine, induced by my natural affection and observance for the most serene Signory, and thus may Christ make you trust my words, as uttered solely for the common weal and for the honour of the most serene Republic, and not for any other cause. But here it is necessary to be brief, and that I should first let you know that from the wish always evinced by me for peace, contrary to that of the Pope and his dependants, I have refused the superintendence of affairs here, both at the commencement, when the Pope wished to give it me, and I refused, with the excuse of awaiting the return from France of Cardinal Caraffa, as also at present, when they made the Warder (Castellano) urge me most stoutly again and again to that effect, and I parried the attack by saying that I am here, and that they can make use of me free of any cost, and without any diminution of the authority exercised by the Pope's nephews, who said they would obey me, I being ready to serve them so far as I am good, and as a councillor, &c., although experience has shown that they do not choose to follow my advice, which was from the beginning that they should keep Paliano, Velletri, and Rome, securing the 'Campagna' by means of one single place, such as Frossinone or Anagni, concentrating all the forces in a single stronghold, whereas, being scattered in several fortresses, they were captured; but Giulio Orsini, who is in truth a daring soldier, and, as I believe, a good one, though young, was of opinion to keep everything, and the Pope, by reason of his great wish not to yield, nor to lose anything that belongs to him, assented to the Signor Giulio's opinion, so that, to my great grief, the losses known to you were incurred, the enemy's repute being thus so greatly augmented, and ours so diminished, that the former have become lions and the latter sheep; and therefore, to speak confidentially with you, I should be sorry to see the Imperial army approach these walls, from great fear of their boldness and of the alarm of our troops, as also by reason of the discontent prevalent in this city, which is governed, as it were (quasi) tyranically, horses, grain, money, and everything else being taken by force, for there is not a 'quatrino' in the exchequer, and when they have to give a rate of pay to the troops it behoves them to beg 2,000 crowns from one person, and 3,000 from another; and of those mounted harquebusiers who were raised lately by violence, some 60 of them went over to the enemy; besides which we see the wrath of God upon us, for nothing projected by this side prospers, whereas the Imperialists succeed in all their designs, and had they attempted more their success would have been greater. Cardinal Caraffa chooses to do everything alone, and believes himself to know more than anybody else, which is subsequently disproved by facts.
These confusions, coupled with other respects, made me reject all command nor will I accept any charge, because if I am to be minister of war I choose to be able to act to the honour of God, with justice, and with piety; and here nothing is witnessed but the dishonour of God, injustice, and impiety. This my refusal of office, in addition to my having constantly persuaded them to make peace, caused these Lords (questi Signori) to distrust me, so they do not communicate their designs to me, as they perhaps would have done had I conformed myself to their will; although if I go to the meetings of the Council they admit me readily, but if I do not go they do not send for me, and I by degrees go withdrawing myself. I have made this statement in order to add that what I am going to say was not communicated to me by these Lords (questi Signori) but through another channel, namely by Signor Ferrante de Sanguini, by the Duke of Paliano's physician, and by my creature, Captain Matheo of Forli, the governor of the Marquis, the Duke's son, who have informed me that by these two last couriers there are letters from King Philip, evincing a very great wish for peace, his Majesty referring himself about it to the Duke of Alva and to the said Signor Ferrante, and (should such be the wish of the Pope) he is content to let the Duke his nephew keep Paliano, provided it be dismantled, lest at any time it prove a bastion for the invasion of the kingdom of Naples, and that his Majesty will give the Duke 16,000 crowns additional revenue, it being told me besides that the Duke of Alva adds 4,000; so that King Philip may be supposed to bear goodwill towards the peace.
Then, on the part of France, it is known for certain that the King, at least for a time, would wish to remain quiet, recovering the costs incurred by him, and allowing the kingdom to take breath, which caused the Constable, who is sage and good, to have the truce made; and this wish for repose was announced by France before Cardinal Caraffa went thither and after his return, and Strozzi (contrary to the general belief, as nothing suits the [Florentine] outlaws (forusciti) better than war), at the consultations in my presence, and to the Pope after my departure, declared that the King wishes to remain at peace and enjoy the benefit of the truce. It is true that at present I fancy the French will consider it fortunate for them that the Imperialists have commenced the war, as they will think they could not have a finer opportunity than this for a stir of arms with the consent of the people, persuading them that they make it for the defence of the Church, in the hope of thus gaining honour and profit, preserving their title of Christians acquired by them for similar defence, and hoping to effect the so greatly desired occupation of the kingdom of Naples, that he may place his sons conveniently, as may seem necessary to him. The French will therefore promise the Pope what they can for his assistance, and his Holiness in the meanwhile, despairing of immediate help, from France, and seeing himself so hampered as to be unable to defend himself, rather than remit one atom of his obstinacy (più presto che remetter ponto della sua ostination), will place in the power of the French such fortresses as remain to him, as, for instance, Civitavecchia, Nepi, Cività Castellana, Ancona, and perhaps Perugia; which, as said by me heretofore, would cause Italy to swarm with barbarians, and even with devils (il che causeria che l'Italia s'imperia (sic) de barbari, et fino de diavoli), at the risk of the victor's intending to be master of everything. In that case the most illustrious Signory, who is the sole light remaining in Italy, could not avoid destruction, and should therefore apply in time the remedy mentioned by me the other evening, of which I am more and more convinced; namely, that by arming for a general peace, and for that of Italy in particular, and being able to avert impending ruin by peace, the Republic should insist on its being made, and as an alternative declare war on the belligerents.
The most serene Signory would thus place a crown on her head, and become the arbitress of Italy between the greatest Princes that ever reigned in Christendom, and will moreover oblige both those kings, who, as shown by me above, are not averse to the peace; and even should the adjustment not be made, Venice, being armed, would be respected by both sides, as otherwise, which God forbid, were either of them to remain uppermost the Signory would be in sorry plight; and I from my many years experience consider the French worse and more insolent than the Spaniards (et Io per l'esperientia che che ho be tanti anni, giudico per peggiori et più insolenti Francesi che Spagnoli), and the first cause of your reverses was the rout received from King Louis.
My wish would be to see the French in France, the Spaniards in Spain, and the Italians in Italy (Io vorrei veder i Francesi in Franza, i Spagnoli in Spagna, et l'ltaliani in Italia); and to go more into details, I say that in the present case the most illustrious Signory should engage the Duke of Urbino, to effect which I offer my mediation, and if it succeeds I then suggest that his Serenity do send forward 500 men-at-arms and 10,000 infantry into the Duchy of Urbino, and abide by the protests aforesaid with regard to not enduring the desolation of Italy. In that commanding position those forces would suffice for whatever circumstances might require, being near the Abruzzi by the March; near Rome for whatever may occur by way of Gubbio, and near Perugia; and that the Duke of Florence, who is not benefited by these disturbances, and would wish for peace, might perhaps adhere to your Sublimity. It seems to me that this hint is good and salutary to bring about peace, in case the war continue, and if I give it importunately and unasked, be pardon conceded me, and the blame attributed to my wish for the common weal, and my many year's service under the Signory, whom (God forbid she should have the need!) I offer to serve without grade or stipend, as so often said by me. Lord Ambassador, fail not to represent my proposal for the Republic's consideration, as it might yield the utmost possible glory, and for the love of God let it be kept very secret, as, if divulged, it would ruin me to have spoken so freely against all the crowned heads, nor should I certainly deserve it for having unbosomed to a representative and to the ministers of the most sage and prudent Republic that the world ever saw, for in truth I fancied myself speaking to so many lords, my fathers, brothers, and children.”
I, having thanked his Excellency for his great affection, assured him that those most illustrious Lords would keep the whole very secret, they never having failed anyone in similar cases; and his Excellency, having repeated that on this he relied, took leave
Rome, 29th October 1556.
Oct. 30. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives. No. 7 B. p. 62. 686. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
The Bishop of Lesina [Zaccaria Dolfin], having come to dine with me this morning, said that Cardinal Caraffa, with whom he is lodged, did him much honour, and that he has had two audiences of the Pope, with whom he remained two hours each time, acquainting him with the dissatisfaction of King Maximilian with King Philip, or rather with the hatred which he bears him, and that he lately left his Court discontented in every respect; that in the meanwhile the Spanish nation is so detested by Germany, that he would do whatever he could to revenge himself; that the most serene King of the Romans and his counsellors greatly fear the forces of Sultan Soliman, knowing that the most Christian King leads him as he pleases; that when he the Bishop was with the Pope, the conversation having turned upon your Serenity, he explained to his Holiness the amount of the Signory's forces by land and sea, and how single handed they could do whatever they pleased in Italy; that the King of Spain is not a Prince of much ability, nor has he councillors of great experience and prudence about his person; that he has no money, and that therefore the Bishop did not know on what foundation he had undertaken so important a war as this present one in Italy, and which was held in great account in Germany likewise. The Bishop then told me that the Pope was so pleased with this conversation that he embraced him a thousand times, and that a great part of these favours proceeded moreover from his being a Venetian nobleman. He then told me besides, that when talking with Cardinal Morone in like manner about your Serenity, he told him that crowned heads and Republics make agreements according to their profit (si accommodano all' utile loro), and that there were many ways whereby the Pope might gain your Serenity's forces, and render you yet more united with him than you are, as, for instance, by his giving you the kingdom of Sicily and the nomination to the bishoprics throughout your territory, together with authority to avail yourself of part of the revenues of the religious orders, on which were five per cent. conceded, they would yield a considerable sum; the Bishop asking me what I thought of this, and whether he had done well. I replied that a sage man and a negotiator like his lordship had little need of my opinion, so I said merely that he knew your Serenity to be unambitious of territory and desirous of peace. He then added that yesterday, in the presence of his Holiness and of the Congregation of Cardinals, he represented the troubles and adversities of the religion, whereupon the Pope determined that he was to acquaint all the Cardinals with them in detail, and that his Holiness answered him that he would apply such remedy as counselled by the circumstances of the times. This is what the above-mentioned Bishop said to me, nor can I imagine for what purpose he entered into two instantaneous conversations, contrary to the Pope's nature, concerning what he told me as written above, nor why he spoke as he did to Cardinal Morone; though I think his business must be of some importance, he having quitted his legation without leave, as also because he is lodged in the house of Cardinal Caraffa, and that in so short a space of time, he has spoken twice with his Holiness. I will endeavour to elicit something farther, and perhaps from himself (as little can be hoped from others) I shall try to gather some particulars about his business.
Rome, 30th October 1556.
Oct. 31. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives. No. 7 B. 687. The Venetian Ambassador, Bernardo Navagero, and the Secretary, Febo Capella, to the Doge and Senate.
On the receipt to-day at daybreak of your Serenity's letters dated the 28th instant, we went to the Pope, who assigned us audience at 10 h. 30 m. a.m. before his going into chapel to vespers.
On our entry he said he was sorry to be unable to remain with us as long as he wished by reason of the ceremony of the day. I, Ambassador, having thanked him for so much courtesy, told him with how much surprise and regret your Serenity had heard through our letters that his Holiness suspected you of having been negotiated with, in the name of the King of Spain, to form a closer understanding with him, and that you were giving ear to it, which could only proceed from false information, adding that by commission from your Sublimity I assured him that the most illustrious Dominion, persevering in the same inclination for peace and quiet, had never heeded nor attended to any negotiation for a closer understanding with the aforesaid King, always desiring the preservation of the Papal States as much as you did that of your own, in order not to degenerate from your ancestors; and when I, Ambassador, was about to tell him the rest his Holiness interrupted me, saying—
“Magnifico Ambassador, we should do great wrong to the Signory, and to you who represented them, were we not to give more credit to your words than to any other person soever, by so much the more as the love we bear them is, it may be said, coeval with our being, or rather inherited, as we told you heretofore, from our Cardinal Oliverio [Caraffa], on whom his Sublimity conferred a favour such as to our knowledge was never granted by him to others, for he charged his Ambassador to do everything to make him Pope. Then, subsequently, our own sojourn there with you at Venice, where we were so much caressed and honoured, increased this affection of ours, if it admitted of increase, so that we yield to none but yourselves in desiring the welfare of that Republic, in like manner as we yielded to no Venetian Cardinal in seeking it with our predecessors, performing such offices in the Consistories that your own Cardinals thanked us for them, and we replied that they deceived themselves if they thought they were more Venetian than us (se pensavano esser più Venetiani di noi). Now this our love for you being such, and as it would be bad policy for either of us to endure the detriment one of the other, lest we be both ruined, how is it possible for you to remain looking on whilst these churls (questi mal-nati) attack us, making such progress as they have made? for it is a miracle our having so long resisted their forces, which although not much in themselves, yet against us whose means are moderate they exceed the need. What are you waiting for? Although we use discretion and do not ask anything of you, ought you not to see what becomes you? Are you not Christians? Are you not our children? Are you not interested in Italy? Are not these heretics endeavouring to subjugate this province from their ambition to make themselves masters of everything? Why, alas! has wretched Italy this repute, that everybody sees that he who shall be her lord may easily master the rest of the world? Are not these devilish and accursed wretches (questi indiavolati et maledetti) on their way to overthrow the Popedom and destroy the faith of Christ? Why does the Signory not do at present what they did heretofore? for we remember to have been at Venice at the time of the war of Florence, (fn. 3) and to have seen those venerable old men (the greater part of whom are now in Paradise) lamenting the downfall of that Republic with the tears in their eyes. Why are there not kindred souls at present? Is it possible that they be quite extinct? Were we of this opinion we should also believe that the Almighty has chosen to inflict some great punishment on us to our utter destruction; but, as we have told you, we ask neither league nor anything else of you, save that you keep ready prepared, and that you open your eyes to your own welfare; for God, He, either with or without you, will well know how to chastise his enemies. Do you not credit our belief that His Majesty will visit them with a heavy hand? and that in like manner as on the sudden they increased marvellously without any merit of their own like a blaze in pernieic orbis terrœ, so will they suddenly be crushed to avenge their iniquities, and for the peace and quiet of the world. Do you, however, remain within your boundaries as necessary for the security of your State, as by doing so you will secure yourselves and assist others by arming without making any declaration, and by answering those who question you on the subject thus: Why are we not to arm if we see all Italy in arms? Are we not bound to maintain our State, of which we have to give account to the Lord God?' For operations of this sort you never could be reproved, though for acting contrariwise you certainly might if from cowardice you allowed yourselves to be oppressed, and were you by remaining unarmed to lose your dignity. Were we in your Senate we should hope to say such things in this matter as to find few members who could reasonably confute us.” His Holiness then showing that he had finished, I, Ambassador, said, “Holy Father, his Sublimity, who has heard these suggestions of your Holiness through our letters, has charged me to thank you, adding that being given by a Prince so sage and friendly, those most excellent Lords will hold them in such consideration as they shall know is required for the benefit and dignity of their State.”
The Pope said, “We have repeated it to you that we do not move from our purpose, and that we are more and more confirmed in our belief that there is nothing more salutary than this for the Signory, because it tends to the preservation of state and fame, as should you now do what becomes you, you will obtain increase of terrilory (ne conseguirete accrescimento di Stato) and your glory will be inscribed on adamant.”
I, the Ambassador, then continued, “Holy Father, I have another commission from the most serene Signory to impart to your Holiness,” and I accordingly stated to him word for word what your Sublimity enjoins me about the disposition of the King of Spain, with regard to the constant and earnest offices performed by you for the peace; and about that of the Duke of Alva, with regard (should it please his Holiness) to sending the Secretary again to the camp. The Pope replied, “MagnificoAmbassador, those people (costoro) are villains (seclerati); they say many things, in order to do none of them. Let them do it to-day, and we will do it to-morrow; but you must know that they are compelled because Filii hujas sœculi prudentiores sunt filiis lucis; these rogues see what the most serene Signory ought to do to assist us, both for the interest of the religion and for the benefit of their state; and by preaching peace, and saying they will submit, they endearour to put you to sleep, that you may not do your duty. And so every fortnight they send fresh messengers to each Italian potentate, to Ferrara, to Urbino, and even to Parma, telling them to pray and persuade us to make peace; nor could any greater injury be done us than to doubt our wish for it, but it must be a good peace, and not a treacherous one, for with those people (con costoro) one can never be secure. You will have heard of the plot discovered at Paliano, in addition to so many others;” and he then repeated his usual abuse of the Emperor, and the King of Spain, and the Spanish nation, saying that “This youth chose to signalize his life and render it notorious by the greatest impiety that could be imagined, having at the commencement of his rule over so many kingdoms commenced war on the religion, on the See Apostolic, against Christ; but that he the Pope would soon issue his sentences, not of privation, for they are already deprived, but passing censures, releasing from oaths of homage, and conferring the kingdoms on those who shall obtain them, they being such as will easily find aspirants, for already a stir is heard in Piedmont, and will also be heard elsewhere, and that the justice of God will cause even the Turk to come and inherit them; but that his Holiness will be dead, and will not witness such great destruction, for which there is no remedy save to knock these rogues on the head (se non dar sopra la testa a questi) and rid the world of them, for they are worse than Turks; and that it pains him above all to see the iniquitous schism of these Imperialists who strive to celebrate profane masses although they are interdicted; and they moreover dare to say that they have shown (fatto veder) to Doctors of Divinity, and made them write, that this their impious war is lawful; but the more we have borne and continue to bear, the more do we hope to witness vengeance for it from the hand of God. We have told you again and again that they have no other cause than our not allowing ourselves to be commanded, and our wish to preserve the State of the See Apostolic as we found it, nor do we seek to enlarge it, in like manner as had we not found it (come anco se non l'havessamo trovato) we should not have sought it, so that we might live more tranquilly in our poverty; nor do we wish for anything for ourselves, but merely to maintain our dignity, and not allow ourselves to be trodden under foot by a race (da gente) who have neither justice, liberality, courtesy, piety (pietà), faith, nor religion. With you and with the most illustrious Signory we cerily believe that we can speak, without thought for its being divulged. Ought we to be reproved for wishing to see Italy in her former state of liberty, in harmony and security, as she was before those luckless potentates Ludovico [Duke of Milan] andAlphonso [King of Naples] ruined her? Ought we to be reproved (ripresi) for this? We would tell the tyrants themselves that we wish it, because we are an Italian, and perceive that this is for the welfare of our country; and if we are now conceded so just an opportunity, why should we not endeavour to realize this our wish, to replace Italy in her lustre, and render her secure for many centuries by making a Duke of Milan and a King of Naples, not for ourselves, as our stay here is short, nor for our kinsfolk, who will content themselves with what may be given them for their living by the courtesy of the King of France, and of the Signory, so that they may conveniently enjoy what we gave them, which was taken from our rebels without dismembering the Church property, nor from ambition, but for the general good, to establish the affairs of this afflicted province. Why should the Signory not do everything for this so signal a benefit, and were they to give themselves to be understood, would it, perchance, fail to be accomplished easily? They are a handful of poor wretched fellows (sono 4 scalzi), and after breaking their heads (alli quali come si havesse rotta la testa) we should enter the kingdom of Naples, which would give itself unanimously, and we know what we say, and you would have such a part of it as you never imagined; we hinted this to you heretofore, and it would depend upon us, who never thought of doing anything without the Signory'sparticipating in it, as known to others to whom we communicated our projects, and it will still be in time, though should you delay we might possibly make such an arrangement (fermar noi tal cosa) as subsequently to render it impossible. Let this suffice. You never had a finer opportunity than the present one, this See being held by us, who desire nothing but your welfare. Heretofore, nevertheless, [in the year 1529, Decr. 23,] you (fn. 4) made a Duke of Milan [Francesco Maria Sforza] who subsequently [in 1535, Octr. 24], to your great sorrow, died. Why are you not those same men now? With these rascals (ribaldi) you cannot agree, for they choose to tyrannize over the whole world, and after subduing us they would require from you in reward for their friendship, first Padua, then Treviso, then Verona, Brescia, Bergamo, and Crema, which they say belong to them. This is not the case with these others (con questi altri) [the French] because they have a number of children, and for the benefit of the kingdom it is necessary to thrust them abroad (cacciarli fuori) and provide for them. Let Italy take two, to be educated there, with Italian councillors and preceptors; one to be Duke of Milan, the other King of Naples; and be the gate closed against the barbarians, and let the Signory of Venice have Sicily, which kingdom can never be proposed for France, and will be held for ever by the Republic, its inhabitants being caressed and well treated, in which you are proficients. Venice would thus be secured against famine, that island becoming a convenient harbour for your ships and galleys, and as in your own neighbouring ports, the shout there would be 'To Venice! to Venice! We know not whether it would be possible to state our mind or to show our love for you more clearly.
“We choose you to know that the Sicilian, being required by their viceroy to come against us, took time to consider, and their decision was that if the Spaniards chose to go against the Church, they should make use of their foreign troops in the kingdom of Naples, as the Sicilians single handed were well able to defend themselves against the Turks, which we believe to be the truth, Magnifico Ambassador, and we will have information on the subject given you by the Cardinal of Pisa [Scipione Rebiba], who was born in that kingdom, and is as worthy a man as any we know; and in conclusion, with regard to the Secretary's going, in God's name let him go, but he will do no good, nor does his mission much please us, as, to speak freely to you, he who requires deeds does not delight in words. The Signory have not even chosen to disband part of their troops, as requested of them by public personages of authority, that they might be enrolled, in case of need, for us or for the most Christian King. We take everything in good part; do what you will, do not let yourselves be deceived by these traitors.”
I, the Ambassador, replied that I knew nothing about this, but that your Serenity had no other troops than those usually quartered in the garrisons, with which you cannot dispense, and the cavalry, of which to deprive yourself would inconvenience and endanger your interests; and with this we took leave to go to Cardinal Caraffa, whom we met on his way to chapel, and I, the Ambassador, having accosted him, mentioned the order received by the Secretary to return to the camp, should it so please his Holiness, in the same terms as used by me with the Pope, assuring him also that your Serenity had negotiated nothing with the King of Spain, nor did you purpose forming a closer understanding with him; whereupon, seeming quite rejoiced, he answered me, “We are too much obliged to the most illustrious Signory, and are glad the Secretary is returning, because by no other means than these can this peace be made, and in order that the Secretary” (when uttering which words he called me, Secretary, to him) “may be well informed, and also know my intention, I will send you this evening what I had occasion to write lately on this subject, so that should the Duke of Alva speak to you about it, and seeing also my intention, it may be understood with whom the difficulty rests, and whether the Imperialists (costoro) really wish for peace.”
When we modestly refused to have writings, he added, “We will send them to you, not as the cardinal-nephew of the Pope, but as Don Carlo Caraffa, because in that capacity likewise did I make them;” and here he added, “I have so provided for myself that now I can fear but little harm from them; the affairs, Lord Ambassador, are in a good way, nor is there any longer the least cause for doubt.” We did not go to the Duke of Paliano, by reason of his serious indisposition, which tends to dropsy. I, the Secretary, according to your Serenity's order will go to-morrow to the camp. Most serene Prince, although I, Ambassador, in the first place, and subsequently both of us together, have written nearly these same things and words about the Pope's conversations, yet has it not seemed fit to us to pass them over in silence now, in order that thereby your Serenity may know the constant mind of his Holiness.
Rome, 31st October 1556.


  • 1. Zacearia Dolfin, Bishop of Lesina, made Cardinal by Pope Pius IV. on the 12th March 1565. (See Cardella, vol. 4.)
  • 2. Odet de Selve. (See the late Mr. Turnbull's Calendar, Mary, Index.)
  • 3. On the 8th November 1494, Pietro de Medici and his two brothers quitted Florence, which remained free until 1509. Paul IV. was born in 1476, so at the time of “the war of Florence,” he was in the 18th year of his age. Cardella (vol. 4, p. 161), says that in 1494, Gian Pietro Caraffa accompanied his uncle, Alessandro Caraffa, from Naples to Rome, so I infer that he also went with him from thence to Venice.
  • 4. The investiture was made by the Emperor Charles V. at Bologna.