Venice: November 1556, 1-10

Pages 763-782

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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November 1556, 1–10

Nov. 1. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 688. Giacomo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
From what I have been able to ascertain on good authority, his most Christian Majesty has received information that Don Ruy Gomez no longer intends coming hither, making it appear that his presence here on account of the agreement with the Pope is unnecessary, his King having offered such terms to his Holiness, that should he reject them, his Majesty could find no means to withdraw his forces save to the disparagement of his dignity; which he hoped the King of France would take in good part, as it is in accordance with his Catholic Majesty's rights.
This was heard with dissatisfaction here, his most Christian Majesty considering himself much aggrieved, as after so many promises given him about this coming, the Catholic King had thus wished as it were to cool the preparation which was being made here for the war. In addition to this grievance it is now heard that according to the processes drawn up about the plot discovered lately at Metz, and which were sent hither to the King after the execution of the conspirators, one of these last deposed that the order given him about that scheme had been received by him from the lips of the King of England (dalla bocca del Re di Inghilterra). Another plot has moreover been discovered at Casale, and other understandings elsewhere in Piedmont. All these things demonstrate how little inclined his Majesty is to observe the truce; so here the provision for the war has greatly rekindled, as besides the despatch of the first 20 captains of French troops, other 12 captains have been appointed also to raise French troops, and 20 Italians to raise Italian troops in Piedmont. The Baron L'Espic quartermaster-general of the camp of Piedmont, has also been sent to raise 2,000 infantry in Gascony, to fill up the 49 companies now in being, which are very short of men, with order for all the said troops to be in Piedmont for the muster, to be made on the 15th instant, when all will receive pay; so that the most Christian King will have 81 companies of Frenchmen and 20 of Italians, which will be paid at the rate of 300 men per company, though they are usually not more than 270, amounting in all to about 27,000 infantry, besides the 9,000 Switzers. Although the Constable told me that the latter were already levied, I have ascertained that the Diet had determined to give the first 6,000, which are to be in Piedmont on the 15th, the companies being already formed, but about the fresh order for the 3,000 which arrived subsequently, nothing had been decided down to the 26th ultimo by reason of the shortness of the time; but Colonel Ferli writes that these likewise will certainly be raised, though they cannot be in Piedmont until after the 20th instant. The 500 men-at-arms will also be there by that time, and in like manner the 600 light horse, who have already received commands to hold themselves in marching order; and from what I hear of the whole of the aforesaid infantry force, 8,000 men will be reserved to garrison the Piedmontese fortresses, and of all the rest, an army corps (corpo d'essercito) will be formed, amounting in all to 28,000 infantry, 750 men-at-arms, including those who go from hence and those on the spot, and 1,000 light cavalry.
One of the commissioners from Piedmont (del Piamonte), has in like manner been sent with orders to M. de Termes for the necessary victuals, ammunition, and artillery, as also to provide boats for the construction of bridges, pick-axes, spades, pioneers, oxen, and every other requisite for the war; and according to report, M. de Brissac will depart in the course of the present week, and the Commander-in-chief the Duke de Guise on the 15th, taking with him all the other Lords who form his staff, some of whom have already commenced sending horses and other necessaries. The Government is also intent on pecuniary supply, and on the day before yesterday a fresh bargain (partito) was struck with the German merchant George Obreck, who dwells in Lyons, as head of a large company of other Germans and Italians, which, according to its assignments received from his most Christian Majesty, having to be paid 900,000 crowns ready money in the months of November and December, has consented at that term to leave them to him again for ten years, at the usual interest of 16 per cent, on the fairs of Lyons (sopra le fiere di Lione); of which sum the King will thus avail himself in cash these next months; and it is considered certain that he will levy six tenths from the clergy, yielding upwards of 1,000,000 of gold. There is no advice from Ferrara, but the Duke's decision is very anxiously expected, the Prince his son declaring that at any rate it will be to his Majesty's satisfaction, the only remaining difficulty being a little more money for the payment of 500 infantry; and the said Prince told the King that should his father not choose to comply with his Majesty's wishes, he will leave in his Excellency's hands, out of the allowances received from him (le proprie provisioni che gli da), a sum equal to that payment, in order that once for all this treaty be concluded. In the event of such conclusion, as I wrote to your Serenity, the King intends his Excellency to raise 6,000 infantry, 200 light horse, and 100 men-at-arms. From Rome, in like manner, no advice whatever has been received since many days, and it is longed for.
Paris, 1st November 1556.
[Italian, partly in cipher; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
Nov. 2. Original Letter Book, Venetian, Archives No. 7, B. 689. The Venetian Secretary Febo Capella to the Doge and Senate.
I departed hence very early this morning to go to the Duke of Alva, and having arrived within a mile from Grottaferrata, where my last letters informed your Serenity that the army was quartered, I found his Excellency on a hill, watching the march of the said army, which had decamped some time previously, and having presented myself to him, we two, on horseback as we were, withdrew to some little distance from the rest, whereupon I stated the first part of my commission in your Serenity's own words, and then by argument having demonstrated the very injurious result which the continuance of this war might produce, I exhorted him, in your name, to propose some other fair form of articles (capitoli), more to the dignity of this See Apostolic and of his Holiness, as the means without which it would be impossible to incline the Pope to the agreement, your Serenity perceiving that it was necessary to show him some mark of reverence, expressing myself in the other precise words of your most sage letter. His Excellency, after a few words confirming the trust he has in your Serenity, repeated to me the particulars written by you about the orders received by him from the King, and his Majesty's good disposition towards the peace, adding that a few days ago, Cardinal Santa Fior sent one of his gentlemen to him, not without the knowledge of Cardinal Caraffa, to speak to him about this agreement, and to see whether his Excellency wished for it and would come to details; and he (the Duke) having let him know that such was his desire, the said gentleman was sent back to him lately with a letter of credence, with certain articles of such tenour as he would show, or tell me by word of mouth. When I said that as his Excellency knew them by heart he could repeat them, he added, that with regard to the clause already proposed by him about releasing the prisoners, the Roman Government (questi Signori) will that after settlement of the other matters the said prisoners be afterwards asked of his Holiness, as an act of grace; that touching the affair of Marco Antonio Colonna, they replied that his Holiness had proceeded justifiably, having deprived him for the things which will be seen in the processes drawn up; that about the other matter of Ascanio della Cornia, that he was the Pope's open rebel; and that as to what concerned the non-fortifying on the confines of the kingdom of Naples, that the Pope was a free prince, and could and ought to do what he pleased in his own territory, it being, moreover, in a certain way unbecoming and undignified to speak about this whilst the Duke was armed and occupied the towns of the Church; his Excellency saying to me that these articles seemed to him so unfair that he would not read them more than once, and that he, indeed, thought that they had been made to try his patience, which as he chose to keep as long he could, he determined to write back, adopting the same form of credentials, adding to the letter, that he had perceived the bravado (la bravura) the articles sent, and that, nevertheless, should they choose to attend to what is fair, they will see that his Majesty's intention is to exalt and not to depress the Pope's authority, and to provide for the benefit of his Holiness' family and posterity.
That, besides this letter, he told the gentleman orally that as it did not seem fit to him to put this in writing, by reason of the nature of the articles sent to him, he was to relate with reference to the said articles that it was fitting for his Majesty's public ministers and those persons who had been imprisoned on his account to be released, and that the rights of the others should be investigated, there being done to them what was due and fair. That they would so provide, and with such advantage for the Count of Montorio (for thus do the Imperialists denominate the Duke of Paliano), as compensation for Paliano, as to prove how excellently disposed his Majesty is towards the advantage of the Caraffa family. That as to Ascanio della Cornia, the King would never compel the Pope to do anything contrary to his dignity, the Duke of Alva knowing that when his Majesty is acquainted with what took place in that business, he will only require what is due; and that respecting Paliano, it was not fitting for the Pope either to have that place or to erect any other fortress at the boundaries of the kingdom of Naples, to remove any cause for disturbance, the Duke saying to me that it would be like making a Piedmont on those confines; and with this message he sent back the gentleman yesterday morning. His Excellency said to me, besides, that from what he had told me, I could understand what had taken place, as also the unfairness of the articles proposed by this side, and the fairness of his reply, he wishing for the agreement and for peace, as always asserted by him, and that had the correspondence with Cardinal Santa Fior continued he thought of desiring him to communicate everything to your ambassador in Rome, and to me, that we might endeavour to effect a fair and durable adjustment; and he asked me what I thought of the one thing and the other, desiring me to tell him what else I could recommend, as he would do it, in accordance with what he had said to me heretofore.
I replied that from what I had heard with regard to the first, it seemed the medium of Cardinal Santa Fior was good and opportune, and I replied to the second that there was no occasion for the ambassador nor for me to interfere in the business. His Excellency rejoined that he did not much like this way, as he thought “these lords” would not quite trust Cardinal Santa Fior, by reason of the injury he received from them, and that a medium was necessary, as two parties hostile one to the other are never seen to agree without a fitting mediator, nor did he see any better one than your Serenity and your ministers to inspect and adjust the articles and conditions, as in no other way would any good ever be done, because from what is known and seen, the most Christian King cannot mediate, nor is there any other prince of authority, and that on the settlement of what was necessary he would throw himself at the Pope's feet and make every submission. I said that it seemed to your Serenity that some agreement might be made, and assured him that you had done everything possible to procure peace, for the benefit of Christendom, and especially of Italy, yet you did no think it fit to arbitrate in the matter. The Duke replied that although he supposed your Serenity had considered the subject maturely, as was your wont, and that there was no necessity for his Excellency to make any rejoinder, yet he observed that had anyone asked him about this he should have replied that precisely to your Serenity it appertained to exercise your arbitration in a business of such importance as this present one, you being that potentate who single-handed would bring about this peace, and moreover the quiet of Italy, saying, for instance, “This clause is unsuitable; it would be fitting to do so and so, and adjust the matter,” with such goodness and wisdom as are inherent to those most illustrious Lords. To this I rejoined that as I had told his Excellency that your Serenity would continue performing good offices, so I also promised myself that his Excellency would also endeavour to accomplish this agreement, which was so necessary and so universally desired, to which effect I again besought him earnestly.
The Duke continued that he knew the quality of his own forces and of those of the Pope, who could not receive assistance from France so soon as he hoped, but that notwithstanding this, should his Holiness wish for the agreement, he the Duke would occupy himself about it with his whole soul, as he desired nothing else, and to have it known to the world; and that the necessity for taking the arms out of the hands of him who sought to injure King Philip (la Maestà sua), and not the will, had made him proceed in this way, as if he had had to do with any other prince the affair would have proceeded otherwise; and that should this adjustment not be effected it will go on badly even now, and that in the end the only gainers would be the French, to whom they purposed giving Orvieto likewise. The Duke, in short, showed himself very anxious for the agreement, saying moreover that he should have hoped it would have been already made had the conference with Cardinal Caraffa taken place, and this he repeated several times.
Our conversation having lasted nearly an hour, his Excellency said that he wished me to see the march of the Spanish infantry, which was then descending the hill, and thus did I, remaining for upward of another hour with him, in the course of which he resumed the aforesaid conversation, telling me besides that in the preceding night he received letters from the Marquis de Trevico with news of his having taken a place near Ascoli, on the confines of the Abruzzi, where he found himself with 2,000 infantry and 300 horse, he having repulsed 600 men who came out of Ascoli to prevent it, 150 of whom were cut to pieces (tagliate a pezzi), all the rest being made prisoners, amongst whom, as there were some of the chief inhabitants of the city of Ascoli, a ransom of from 10,000 to 15,000 crowns had been exacted. His Excellency then added that he had remained so long a while at Grottaferrata awaiting the execution of his orders for the transmission of considerable supplies of victuals from the kingdom of Naples towards Nettuno for the use of the army, and as they had now arrived he was marching in that direction, and that in the meanwhile he had fortified Rocca di Papa; that this afternoon he should advance five miles to encamp near a lake [Lago di Castello] opposite Albano, and that in four days he intended to cross the river and then make himself master of Ostia; that in the meanwhile the reinforcements which he expected with the galleys will arive, and that he shall then proceed to do the like by Cirilaveechia, that it may not be given to the French, and the citadel not being very strong, and the town having been patched (racconzata) by them lately as well as they could, he hoped to succeed.
After the Spanish infantry had defiled, I took leave of his Excellency, who, having again drawn aside with me for a short while, said that he should wait to see whether these lords (questi Signori) shall choose to send again to him, and that in case he send back it is his intention (dependent, however, on their tone) to demand an interview with Cardinal Caraffa, from which, as already stated by him, he anticipated a good result; whereas from the Pope he could promise himself little or nothing, both by reason of his inveterate hatred to the Emperor, as also from the desire he has constantly evinced to deprive him of the kingdom of Naples; the Duke remarking that his Holiness having been of this mind heretofore, when he had neither State nor forces, it may be inferred that, having grown old with this idea, he will now choose to realise it by means of the popedom.
On my arrival the men-at-arms had already passed, and I hear that they were in good order, as likewise a Spanish regiment, and all the Italians. The light cavalry which I saw are fine troops, and well mounted, considering the service they have seen and that their horses are picketed in the open country; but nothing could be handsomer than the Spanish cavalry, well armed and all veterans, in number 3,300, although receiving pay for 3,700. Several empty gun carriages passed, and the Duke told me he was sending them for the artillery which will be landed from the galleys, they having also sappers on board, besides 1,500 who marched in like manner in battle array, the Duke telling me, as I saw, that they were accompanied by some cavalry, who were in the midst of them, to watch and prevent their escape. (fn. 1)
I must not conceal one thing from your Serenity, although the Duke told it me as a great secret, and as a thing which if repeated might prove detrimental to this agreement, saying he told it me in confidence, and that I must not do him such a wrong; that he would in short consent to Paliano remaining to the Pope personally, precisely as it was held by Paul III., that is to say, that it should not be given either to the Church or to Marc' Antonio Colonna, but that the Pope might consider it his own for his life.
Rome, 2nd November 1556.
Nov. 2. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 690. Giovanni Michiel, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Nothing is thought of, nothing expected, save this blessed return of the King, which—as told me by Cardinal Pole—the Queen will not credit can be impeded or delayed by the rupture in Italy with the Pope, unless here they declare war on France; but as yesterday a courier sent express, post haste (in diligentia), brought news of the King's return to Brussels, thus removing himself to a greater distance from hence, everybody's suspicion of further delay has increased. As yet it has not been possible to ascertain the cause of the said courier's despatch.
Here they have been intent hitherto on levying the loan demanded by them; henceforth they will occupy themselves by paying the debts, the Queen choosing everybody to be satisfied by Christmas and before; and to give yet greater satisfaction (havendo anco voluto per maggiormente gratificarsi) she has also willed that the gentlemen-pensioners and yeomen who were broken lately, re-enter her service, letting it appear that their dismissal proceeded from her councillors and not from her own desire, which by the said pensioners and universally was received with twofold gratitude (è stato con doppia gratitudine riceruta).
The fruit of Dr. Cheke's recantation begins already to take effect, well nigh 30 persons who were in prison in danger of being burned, having lately by the grace of God and through the efficacy of his language been converted.
There has at length arrived here, according to the announcement made previously, (fn. 2) the Bishop of Acqs, Prothonotary [François] de Noailles, appointed long ago as ambassador resident, and who by taking the place of a brother of his [Gilles de Noailles] who, after the departure of the last ambassador [Antoine de Noailles], resided here as agent, will remove the suspicion of this Government (questi Signori) that the most Christian King would merely accredit an agent to England, for which reason he [the agent] was ill-looked on; the English on their part being on the point of doing the like.
London, 2nd November 1556.
Nov. 3. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives, No. 7 B, p. 68, &c. 691. The Venetian Ambassador Bernardo Navagero, and the Secretary Febo Capella, to the Doge and Senate.
To-day, on entering the Pope's presence, I, Secretary, gave him full and particular account of what I had negotiated with the Duke of Alva, as your Serenity will have seen by the accompanying letter, but not telling him the last part, about which the Duke told me to be silent, with regard to his consenting that Paliano should remain to the Church (sic) in the form in which it was held by Paul III. The Pope, after listening to me attentively, said, “Have you anything else to tell us? You have not been able to remove them from their first obstinacy? (non havete possuto cavar loro della sua prima ostinatione?) What they have told you now is in fact the same as heretofore, although in kind (humane) and submissive words, they wishing to show the world the contrary of what they have at heart, talking of peace and by deed waging war. That Duke is surrounded by an asylum (un asylo) of our ribald traitors, and chooses them to remain in our territory (in casa nostra) by force. What greater injustice than this could there be? From the demands made by them of the King of Christendom (Principe de' Cristiani) judge what they would do to you had they the opportunity. We will die rather than condescend to such a thing. It ought to seem much to them if, making amends for what they have done hitherto, they could hope that we shoould remit proclaiming them accursed, excommunicated, and deprived of empires and kingdoms, as we intend to do, by well-grounded decrees, which will last eternally, and Christ will find means to have them executed. We say that it ought to suffice them should we be pleased to leave them the name of king, and not that they should choose to give us the law in our own territory, for rather than assent to any indignity we would die a thousand deaths;” adding the following four verses [Virgil, Æneid, Book IV., verse 24]:
“Sed mihi vel tellus optem prius ima dehiscat,
Vel Pater omnipotens adigat me fulmine ad umbras,
Pallentes umbras Erebi noctemque profundam,
Ante, Pudor, quam te violo, aut tua jura resolvo.”
“Oh, Lord! shall we not some day be relieved from this insupportable yoke of the barbarians? Shall we lose the greatest opportunity that ever was in the world, which will not return again for many centuries? Is it possible to be so stupid (tanto stupidi) as not to see what ought to be done? We shall recommend ourselves to His Divine Majesty alone, as those who should bestir themselves do not, though they will perhaps wish to do so when no longer in their power. Even now the forces of Italy alone would suffice to rid us of this plague (peste), which, if allowed to proceed farther, will infect everything. You, Secretary, may report this, and on the other hand our desire for the universal good, nor will we omit to repeat to you what we have said heretofore, that it would be the establishment of the affairs of Italy;” and he then talked about the two sons of the most Christian King, one to be Duke of Milan, the other King of Naples; that as nothing could be said to the French about Sicily, that island would be given to your Serenity in such form as to render you perfectly master of its advantages, and that the world would assign you the glory of having freed Italy through the facility with which you would execute this design of his Holiness, who did not wish for anything for the See Apostolic nor for his kinsfolk, and that if he gave his nephews the fiefs of Paliano and Bagno, he did so (having taken them from those rebels) that they might have them in custody; adding the things uttered and written so often, most especially in our last letters, and coming to the conclusion that his demands of your Serenity that you should arm was a very moderate one, and so salutary (salutar) for the Signory that more could not be imagined, and that no one could reprove you if, seeing all around you in arms, you made provision for the security of your State; saying that he prayed God to enlighten the hearts of those most excellent Lords, that they might see their advantage and decide as should be most beneficial to them.
Thereupon we took leave of his Holiness, and having heard of the convalescence of the Duke of Paliano we went to him, and I, Ambassador, narrated the Secretary's interview with the Duke, to which he replied, “I had some hope that the King of Spain, on hearing of the progress made by the Duke of Alva, would order him to retire and cease his attack on the Church, so that a good peace might be made to the honour of his Majesty and of the Duke of Alva, who would thus have obeyed his master's commands, and gained the Pope, whom they will never win by force. I know that, after the receipt of the King's letters, the Duke wished to send hither Don Francisco Pacheco, who is his soul (che è l'anima sua), to treat an agreement; but after hearing those counsellors, Marco Antonio Colonna, Don Garcia de Toledo, and Ascanio della Cornia, about whom I told you heretofore that they have leagued together, he changed his opinion, for he is by nature irresolute, and determined to delay sending for a few days, that he might do so with greater advantage, and not show that he acted by the King's order; so that this being the state of the case, I greatly fear the ruin of all Italy, for having through Ferrante de' Sanguini informed the Duke of Alva about the French movements, to induce him to make the agreement, he said they were things in the air. He will now perceive whether it is so, on hearing of these French personages who are sent, for they could not be greater either by birth or by reason of the love borne them by the most Christian King, and M. de Montmorency is also coming to reside at Rome, in consequence of that wife of his” (per causa de questa sua moglie). (fn. 3) In the course of this conversation it also escaped him (li uscì de bocca) that the Duke of Ferrara was Captain General of the League. He then said that the army was on its march, with the intention of crossing the river, which he hoped they would do, as unless they got reinforcements they might repent them of doing so, because, when wishing to recross, they might perhaps be prevented, and lose what they have occupied on this side.
On proceeding to Cardinal Caraffa, who had returned from the review, he said, in conclusion, that if the Imperialists wished for peace they must quit the papal territory, and propose fair terms in writing, to which a written reply would be given, and that it will be thus seen who fails to make the agreement, and that the mutual friends might arbitrate about the difficulties, and thus settle the business, nor could there be a better mediator than the most Serene Signory. This we adroitly declined, according to our commission, and then took leave, after exhorting him to find means so necessary and profitable for Italy and the whole world.
Rome, 3rd November 1556.
Nov. 3. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives, No. 7 B, p. 70. 692. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
The right reverend “Decano” [Cardinal de Bellai], who had dined to-day with the Pope, and withdrew with him, when in the act of departure, seeing me in the audience chamber, came up to me and said in Latin, “Lord Ambassador, I, as you know, have always wished for the peace, and always counselled it, but am now compelled to change my opinion, because I see that the policy (li consegli) of this King of Naples tends towards the ruin of the Church, and although I have renounced all interference in the affairs of France, yet will I not renounce the care, which as cardinal I ought to have, for the liberty of this ecclesiastical State;” telling me plainly that he who tolerates such injuries, done by a King of Naples to a Pope, may always expect the like treatment, and that thus does a vassal render himself the superior of his lord;” adding, “You possess so great a part of Italy and such forces, as known to everybody, and if other princes out of Italy bestir themselves for the preservation of the See Apostolic, what ought you Italians to do? Do not lose the opportunity; do you also join this honourable undertaking;” and in conclusion he told me he had chosen to speak to me in this form lest he should have cause to repent him of his silence; and he then took leave, because the Pope called us to audience, of which I was glad, as it put an end to this conversation.
The ambassador from Portagal complains greatly because, although this present Pope and his ancestors had received considerable benefits from his King, yet during the whole course of his pontificate he has never been able to obtain a favour, nor an act of justice, nor even audience for business, the Pope having even deprived the Cardinal, the King's brother, of the legation conceded him by Julius III.; so he says he thinks the King will recall him, without sending another ambassador, seeing himself held in such small account by his Holiness.
The last letter from the court of France, dated the 22nd October, from the nuncio, late governor of Rome, confirms my statement that M. de Guise is coming as captain general, M. d'Aumale captain of the cavalry, and M. de Nemours of the infantry; that eight “standards” of men-at-arms, and Brissac in person, had already arrived in Piedmont, and that the whole of this army would amount to upwards of 20,000 infantry, including Switzers and French, 500 men-at-arms, and 800 light cavalry.
Rome, 3rd November 1556.
Nov. 4. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 693. Federico Badoer, Venetian Ambassador at Ghent, to the Doge and Senate.
The King has delayed his departure for Brussels until next week, in order to give a wider field (più campo) to the Duke of Savoy and to several lords of these provinces to perform as of themselves earnest offices, both threatening and persuasive, with the deputies of the towns of Brabant to make them consent to the demand; both for the sake of not having cause in these times to make any demonstration against them, and also because according to the advices from Brussels it is heard that the Prince of Orange (fn. 4) said in public that his Majesty ought to have all those persons hanged who dare to contradict him in his so important necessities (ch'el Principe d'Oranges disse in publico, che S. Mtà, doveria far impicear tutti quelli che hanno ardir di parlar contra ue i suoi si importanti bisogni); and the Marquis of Berghes added, that as they denied their consent to the request, his Majesty would put a good guard of Spaniards in the said town, and that he would perhaps erect a fortress there, to their very serious detriment. The reply of the deputies was, that they who justly sought to preserve their property, did not deserve to be hanged, but rather those ministers who wished to usurp it from them, and that if his Majesty knew how ill served and well robbed he is, he would not think so badly of the deputies; and they wish him to go to Brussels, that they may show him plainly things which he does not know; and that provided he take off the duties on wine, beer, and bread, as promised by the Emperor when he laid them on, they would give him the money which he asks. Another reason for his Majesty's going to Brussels is that should the King of France, as threatened by his ambassador, break the truce unless the Duke of Alva cease molesting the Pope, he would be nearer the frontiers, and secure himself against the population of Brabant, being apprehensive lest in that case they make some insurrection. Subsequently the Prince of Orange aforesaid came to the King, who sent him off immediately with orders to keep in readiness to give commissions to several commanders of cavalry and infantry to the amount of 6,000 or 8,000 men, should the King of France chance to commence war on these frontiers, as is greatly feared here, King Philip's ambassador in France writing of the great preparations and despatch of captains to assist the Pope, in conformity with what is said here by the French ambassador, who yesterday publicly blamed the governor of Hesdin-fort for the sentence passed by him on 15 Englishmen, whom he banished these provinces on suspicion of their intending to give that frontier to the French, saying that the Governor did this more to conceal the Count de Mega's plot against Metz, which was discovered, than because they were the delinquents. The Canons of Cologne have elected the brother of the late Archbishop and Elector of the Empire as his successor, much to King Philip's satisfaction, his brother having always been the Emperor's dependant, whilst another brother is in his Majesty's pay, with an annual stipend of 4,000 dollars.
Ghent, 4th November 1556.
Nov. 6. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 694. Giacomo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The day before yesterday the courier Tassin arrived here from the French Ambassador at Venice with letters to the King from Constantinople, and as I was able to discover at the time when the stir with the Duke of Alva commenced, his most Christian Majesty sent word to Sultan Soliman through his ambassador, that he perceived in the King of England a commencement of his not intending to maintain the truce, so he inquired whether, if war broke out, the Sultan would send his fleet for the service of his most Christian Majesty. The ambassador writes that his Turkish Majesty (quella maestà) will send 60 galleys in aid of his most Christian Majesty, should he need them; so a dispatch was written thanking the Sultan and accepting his offer, and praying him that the fleet be in these waters of the west by the end of next May at the latest, with an express order for it to winter in such ports as his most Christian Majesty shall appoint. It was also determined to send off M. de Brissac, who yesterday took leave and will depart to-morrow. Ludovico Birago departed postwise for Piedmont immediately, having the post of lieutenant-general of the Italian infantry, and Francesco Bernardin Vilmercato also took leave, but having to provide victuals and ammunition for the army, he stays here until to-morrow, having already sent his orders. But as the line of march to be taken by the army in the direction of Romagna will not be decided until the arrival in Piedmont of the Duke de Guise, though it will either be by way of Asti or by the Po, supplies have been sent in both directions with orders and facilities, when the decision is formed, for the one convoy of provisions to join the other. It is said that the Duke de Guise will at any rate depart on the 15th instant, but journeying by day (ma a giornate), together with his whole staff, and it is heard that the French troops are beginning to assemble, and will for the most part go into Piedmont by way of Grenoble and Mont Cenis. The first 6,000 Switzers have already commenced their march, and the Diet has voted the subsequent 3,000, who are now being raised. It is not yet heard that the cavalry has commenced marching, though after the muster they cannot long delay doing so; yet notwithstanding its being said that the army will be in order (ad ordine) on the 20th instant, persons the most experienced declare that it cannot be united into one body much before Christmas. There is no intelligence from Ferrara, but the Duke's ambassador is expected from day to day.
The Queen of England has several times requested his most Christian Majesty to settle a certain dispute about boundaries between Boulogne and Calais, relating chiefly to a place called St. Engelvert (fn. 5) (Zinivert); and although the Constable wished to delay until the spring, because as measurement has to be taken of a considerable extent of country, the floods at this season might cause impediment, nevertheless for the Queen's satisfaction it has been determined to send commissioners, three having been appointed for each side, and they are to assemble on the spot on the 18th instant. (fn. 6)
Paris, 6th November 1556.
[Italian, partly in cipher; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
Nov. 7. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives, No. 7 B. p. 71, &c. 695. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
The Imperial army having decamped from Savello and Albano, marched to Monte Ciriaco on the Tiber, two miles from Hostia; and persons who know the country say that the site is well adapted to the construction of a bridge, and that by taking the artillery thither as they have done, they will be able to cannonade the other side of the river, thus keeping at a distance those who might seek to dispute their passage, which they are nevertheless not expected to attempt until the arrival of the troops embarked at Spezia, which has been so long delayed owing to contrary weather.
On Thursday Marshal Strozzi went to Hostia, which he says can hardly be kept, though it might stand a brisk cannonading; and that at a cost of 2,000 crowns, by making three bastions with fascines, it could be rendered secure. On the same day Cardinal Caraffa went out to hunt across the Tiber, and saw the army in battle array (in ordinanza) at the foot of Monte Ciriaco. Yesterday also he reconnoitred the river with horse and foot, to provide for its defence in case of need, and he and Marshal Strozzi proposed erecting a fortress four miles above Hostia, but Camillo Orsini proved to them that by commencing such a work now, the enemy would thus receive warning; and I hear that everything is being done to strengthen Civitavecchia. Here they are intent on provisioning “Borgo,” and the palace is already well supplied; and it is said that the Borgo is in a state to resist any force whatever. Much timber is being wrought for the purpose of making a bridge to succour Hostia. In order to find money the “Colleges of the Offices” have been ordered not to pay the salaries (la portion) of absentees; and they have also suppressed the perquisites (l'utilità) of the “Cardinals-Protectors” of Spain, France, England, and others, who derived considerable profit from proposing the benefices of those kingdoms.
These things increase the discontent of the city, as the “offices” were, purchased under promise of payment of the profits (utilità) even to absentees. These odious measures increase the scarcity of money, it being also said that the French have paid half the garrison of Castle St. Angelo; and I know this, that with the last courier from Venice there came five men from that city with 40,000 crowns belonging to the French. The Cardinals of the Congregation for the peace say they do not anticipate any good result, as the Duke of Alva answers those who go to him in like manner as he does Placido, the messenger from Cardinal Santa Fior, that these lords have no foundation for their promises; but their right reverend lordships know not what to say, having no authority from the Pope, who on Thursday in the congregation of the Inquisition spoke more violently than ever against the Emperor and the King of Spain, threatening to proclaim them accursed and deprived of their kingdoms. And those right reverend lords say, that although they believe he expresses himself thus to intimidate the enemy, yet knowing his nature they are afraid lest one day or other on the sudden, in the consistory, he may publish some bull of this sort, to ruin everything, not only removing all hope, if there is any, of agreement, but subverting the religion, both in Spain and in England, and perhaps in Poland, (though it seemed that for that last-named country, through the ability of the Nuncio Lippomano, there was some hope,) but assuredly ruining what little religion remains in Germany (fn. 7), it being already seen that the Bishop of Liesina has come hither in the name of the King of the Romans to protest, that should his Majesty wish for aid against the Turks, he is compelled to allow his subjects to live according to their appetites (secondo il loro appetito); and that as the Dict was to reassemble on the 15th instant he knew not what to do, unless an opportune remedy were sent from hence; and the Cardinal who told me this added, that as the aforesaid term will have expired before the bishop can have made his report to the cardinals, spiritual matters will proceed as badly as possible; and that with regard to temporal affairs, the Pope, de jure, will deprive the King of Spain, who, on his part will, de facto, seize the citics of the See Apostolic; yet is the coming of this bishop supposed to be for some greater and more important cause. The ambassador from Florence does not fail to encourage the agreement, in accordance with the orders of his Duke, and says he told the Pope that if the war continues, his Holiness will be compelled to give the French some Papal fortress, as security for their expenses; whilst on the other hand the enemy will fortify what they have taken to avoid any subsequent restitution, and thus form a bastion for the defence of the kingdom of Naples, so that he would remain in poverty, and without repute, wherefore it would be well for him to adjust matters as he best may, to prevent these greater inconveniences; to which the Pope replied, that the Imperialists by their insolence and impiety compel him to wage war.
Rome, 7th November 1556.
Nov. 8. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 696. Federico Badoer, Venetian Ambassador at Ghent, to the Doge and Senate.
The King will depart for Brussels to-morrow, and on the day after I shall follow him. Besides the reasons assigned in my last for his going into Brabant, there is also that of making certain towns there swear allegiance to their governor the Duke of Savoy, the royal authority being requisite in this matter, there being many lords (signori) of these provinces who in secret oppose him, and especially the Prince of Orange and the Count d'Aremberg. (fn. 8)
By several letters from Castille it is heard that the Emperor, neither before his arrival at Valladolid nor after he got there, would allow anyone to meet him; nor would he allow himself to be treated with any sort of ceremony by any of the grandees, nor by other Spanish subjects (nè altri di Spagna), having chosen to lodge in a private house and not in the palace; (fn. 9) and although the Prince (fn. 10) (Principe), the Princess, (fn. 11) the Constable [of Castille], and others, prayed him to give his attention (a voler intender) to several important affairs of those realms, it appeared nevertheless that at this commencement he would not apply his mind to any business, merely giving it to be understood that he thought it would be well for the Queen his sister (fn. 12) to go as superintendent of the viceroys of Aragon, Valentia, and Catalogna, his Majesty intending to proceed to his monastery as soon as possible.
I have heard from a person of quality that certain princes of the Empire, after seeing the “power” (l'auttorilà) given by the Emperor to the King of the Romans, have given it to be understood that they wish to hear more distinctly from his Imperial Majesty whether he believes he shall ever be able again to return to Germany, because for the benefit of that province they desire that it may not only have a principal head (un capo principale) but also its King of the Romans; and that the present one being unable to supply its need, being so much occupied in his own hereditary states (ne i stati suoi particolari) on account of Sultan Soliman, it follows as a matter of necessity that on his royal Majesty's succession to the Empire another King of the Romans must be elected; which news was confirmed to me by certain Spanish gentlemen, who added that these were operations of the King of France, either because he aspires to that grade, or to favour some prince averse to the House of Austria.
A gentleman has arrived from Palermo with a present of 20,000 crowns from that city for the King, and to receive from him the oath to observe its privileges as King of Sicily, asking of him also as a favour to make a declaration assigning precedence to Palermo before Messina; but it is supposed that he will do like the Emperor his father, who swore both to one city and the other, without prejudicing their rights. The ambassador from Naples has proposed to the King that if he would promise no longer to confer any office or dignity in that kingdom on Spaniards, or others of any other nation, but to give them solely to Neapolitans, they will bind themselves to free all the revenues which the Emperor mortgaged for about 400,000 crowns; but as yet has nothing been decided. There have also arrived here the Prince of Sulmona and the brother of Cardinal Cicala, the one to remain here at the court to look after some of his estates near Brussels, and the other to ask for the arrears of pay due for the two galleys with which he served the King in Sicily, the sum amounting to 28,000 crowns, which, if not paid, he says he shall either go and serve others, or disarm them, from inability any longer to bear the expense.
The Cardinal of Trent has written a very earnest letter to King Philip requesting leave to renounce the government of Milan, complaining in general terms that his authority, as also his means for serving his Majesty efficiently, have been impeded. The King answered his right reverend lordship verbally through the agent and by a very loving letter, that he would not grant it him, being very well satisfied with his fidelity and ability, especially having heard how much he is beloved and appreciated in the Milanese. I have understood that the cause of the Cardinal's anger proceeds from the chief ministers here having deprived him of several jurisdictions which other governors usually exercised, such as promising to promote sundry individuals to colonelcies, and other similar prerogatives. The Cardinal of Burgos has also sent hither one of his gentlemen, chiefly to demand his dismissal, as on account of ill health it does not suit him to remain Governor of Sienna any longer. The ambassador Vargas came to see me yesterday, and after narrating what had been written to the King about the replies made, first by the Duke of Alva and then by the Pope, to your Serenity's messages to them, he added that his Majesty was no less gratified at having proved his goodwill by referring everything to your Serenity, than displeased to hear that the Pope, both from his natural haughtiness, and the great hopes derived lately from the King of France, showed himself averse to the agreement. Don Ruy Gomez uttered this same conceit to the Mantuan ambassador and others, saying that in the midst of so much mischief as may be anticipated hereafter from the Pope's proceedings, there was nevertheless this advantage that your Serenity would know his King had not failed to desire an adjustment with the Pope, and to refer all his disputes with him to you.
Ghent, 8th November 1556.
Nov. 9. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 697. Giovanni Michiel, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Concerning the despatch of that courier from the royal court to which I alluded in my last of the 2nd, it is not understood to have been for any extraordinary affair of importance, as reported, but merely for the ordinary correspondence between the Queen and her consort, there continuing between them the greatest confidence and reliance (confidentia et sicurezza) that can be desired between wife and husband, nor does anything of importance pass without their giving each other reciprocal notice of it, as demonstrated by the frequency of messengers and couriers who pass to and fro when anything occurs. Since the last courier there also returned hither, three days ago, the courier Gamboa with an interpreter of the English tongue, both of them bringing very copious letters dated the 3rd instant from the King to the Queen and to the Cardinal, full of apologies for this delay of his return, as caused solely by the quality of the affairs, which increase more and more daily, their despatch being attended to diligently for no other purpose than to speed his coming, though he cannot affirm when it will be, but it is hoped soon (ma si spera presto). Though this indeed saddens the Queen, yet nevertheless, considering that such is the fact, and that his not coming does not proceed from neglect, nor from little will (nè da poca volontà), but from necessity, owing to the nature of the times and his important business, the Queen has of late been pacified, and hope remaining to her, she endures this delay better than she did (meglio che non facera).
The pages arrived with the King's stable, and good arrangements were made for lodging and boarding them, and the like will be done by all the others on their arrival at the Court.
The French ambassador had his first audience on . . . . . , being received with the usual honours both by the Lords of the Council and by her Majesty. They nevertheless denied him a lodging at the cost of the Crown, as concoded to his predecessors, with the excuse that the royal palaces wherein they had been housed are . . . . . and reserved, and required for the King and the others (et delli altri), making amends to him (rimettendo a lui) . . . . . for the service (del servitio), availing themselves of this pretext to dispense. . . . . (fn. 13) last summaries in letters of the 16th ult. to your Serenity.
London, 9th November 1556.
Nov. 10. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 698. Giacomo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The King arrived three days ago at St. Germain, whither I went yesterday, to communicate to him the Turkish news-letters, received on the 6th. He said his own ambassador had sent him well nigh the same advices, and his Majesty then expatiated much on the anger evinced by Sultan Soliman against Hungary, saying that next year he would raise a powerful army; it being also said that he would go in person on that expedition. When I expressed regret for the misfortunes of Christendom, saying that from his bringing so strong a military force into the field it might be inferred that he would again send out a fleet, as usual with him, his Majesty replied, “Thus may it be supposed; for Sultan Soliman's forces are very great, and were he aware of their full power Christendom would fare badly; but to say the truth he seems to become more and more acquainted with the fact daily, as formerly he was not used to send a fleet to sea annually, and now it may be said that he does so as a matter of course; but by his mode of negotiating also, it is evident that he has renounced his former barbarisms (quelle barbarie che già si conosceva), and a few days ago when I ran over certain letters of his addressed to me since my accession, I found a very great difference between those written at the commencement of my reign and the present, these last displaying much more judgment than the others; but to say the truth, I am unable to assert positively whether the fleet will put to sea next year or not; though I will tell you frankly that my ambassador writes me that Sultan Soliman had determined to send me a 'Chiaus' to urge me to make war on the King of England, with orders to offer me conditions should I choose to do so; but I have not yet news of his departure from Constantinople.”
I then asked the King what advices he had from Rome, as it was understood that the King of Spain had sent a gentleman of his chamber to Rome to negotiate terms with (per accordare) the Pope. His Majesty replied, “At the court of the Catholic King they continue proceeding with fair words, but at Rome there is no sign of corre sponding deeds. His Catholic Majesty sent a gentleman of his chamber to make an agreement (it is said) with the Pope, but I know not what will come of it, though I do know that a courier arrived in Flanders from Rome, the fact being concealed for four days, nor despite the diligence used by my ambassador could he learn anything about what he brought; but his news remaining unpublished it may be supposed that they were not pleased with what he brought. I have not failed to do my utmost for quiet, and I swear to you on the word of a gentleman, that I will not cease doing the like as long as I can, but I will not allow the Pope to be coerced (ma non voglio permetter che sottomettino il Papa). The Marshal de Brissac, as you will have heard, has departed, and the Duke de Guise will leave on the 16th instant, having already sent off the greater part of his horses, and other necessaries; the men-at-arms are commencing their march, and the infantry likewise will soon be in order, but I believe that the Switzers will be the first to arrive in Piedmont, although in truth they have not commenced marching, notwithstanding my having received advice that the first [corps] had been raised, but subsequently more sure intelligence reached me of their having determined to march all united; and according to their custom they have chosen me to take more than I required, as the Grisons likewise insisted on giving me a part, so that they will be 10,000 in all; but as I told you on other occasions, God grant that the Pope may make terms, and according to the advices received by me, the secretary sent by the Signory to his Holiness had performed a most excellent office, and I hope that from this suggestion likewise he will adapt himself (si disponerà).” I rejoined, “Should his Holiness consent to an adjustment, your Majesty likewise will have shown your goodwill, and you will also terminate this turmoil.” The King replied, “As I told you heretofore, I shall not regret having incurred this cost to effect the agreement, and so far as I am concerned, should it take place, I shall have wherewithal to do something else (ne haverò da far altro), but I repeat that I got words, of which there is no lack. You will have heard of the journey of the Count de Chalon? (di Schialans) who is still at the court in Flanders, and wrote a letter to an agent of his here, ordering him to show it to the Spanish ambassador, to M. de Brissac, and also to me; that he remained there awaiting a reply, and that he hoped to bring back something to the general satisfaction; and I always listen willingly to anyone who speaks to me on this subject, and amongst all the others [to?] the Abbot of San Saluto [Vincenzo Parpaglia], who, as I think you have heard, is also negotiating these treaties; and I tell you the truth that I have known few men more upright than him; not only is it impossible to find him leaning more towards one side than the other, but he is also devoid both of ambition and avarice, being solely very desirous that one and the other of us should make a good peace.” I said that everybody entertained this same opinion of him, and that whenever I had conversed with him, the identical good qualities mentioned by his Majesty displayed themselves to me; and when I asked the King why (as he told me at my last audience) Don Ruy Gomez had not come, his Majesty, frowning and shrugging up his shoulders, added, “Know that all that I told you was perfectly true, but those ministers have assuredly a mode of proceeding which makes me remain in great suspense;” and without saying anything farther on this subject he continued, “You must have heard of the death of the poor Duke de Bouillon” [Robert de la Marck, Sire de Sedan and Duke de Bouillon], “Marshal of France?” “Yes, Sire,” said I, “with much regret.” His Majesty rejoined, “It was in truth a very strange case and worthy of great consideration (et molto da considerare),” and his Majesty commenced narrating all the ill-usage received by him, and amongst the rest that the ambassador resident here [Simon Renard, Lieutenant d'Amont] had proposed to him to rebel; and at length they agreed to accept for his ransom 60,000 crowns, which were paid, and shortly afterwards he died, not without great suspicion of poison, for after they changed his apothecary he went constantly from bad to worse; the which apothecary is a Piedmontese who for some days was ordered to sleep in his chamber, and the Duke after he had taken a certain medicine at his hands became worn to the bone (si havea consumato sino sopra le ossa) and then died, without fever or any other ailment; and the like was expected to ensue with regard to one of his secretaries, who is going the same road that he went; “and I will tell you,” said his Majesty, “another great sign which frightens me about this poison. His wife and daughter went to bring him away from Flanders, although I greatly exhorted Madame de Valentinois, who is his wife's mother, not to let her go, suspecting that they also would be detained, but the women being too tender, and she wishing to see her husband, chose to go; and on arriving they made them draw up an instrument, including also the daughter, to the effect that in case the Duke died before the ransom was paid, they bound themselves to pay it, whereupon he was released and they took him to Guise, where after having seen his children he died on the 4th instant, without either fever or any other malady, as I have already told you, but I have not yet heard whether the body has been opened, as perhaps then the truth will be better ascertained. The affair took place thus, and they have had the money.” I then asked his Majesty if he had any intelligence from Ferrara, and he replied, “I have not, although it would be now time; but the Duke cannot fail to be satisfied with what is fair, as besides our other mutual dependencies I have too great a pledge in my hands, namely the Prince his son, who went this morning to Paris to arrange his affairs, and he also will depart with M. de Guise.” After this, having returned the usual thanks to his Majesty in your Serenity's name, I took leave; nor will I omit to mention that I endeavoured to allude to the affairs of Sultan Soliman, to make sure if possible of what I wrote in my last, about the putting to sea of the fleet for his most Christian Majesty's service; in addition to which I must inform you that the King is also troubled about this treaty of agreement with the Pope, and by so much the more as he understands that Cardinal Caraffa is no longer so ardently inclined towards his most Christian Majesty as he was at first, (non è più così ardente di volontà verso sua Maestà Christma come era prima), and should the Pope make terms, they consider it well nigh certain here that neither will the Duke of Ferrara choose to declare himself (che nè anche il Duca di Ferrara si vorrà dechiarire); so some persons believe that the Duke de Guise will not depart until after the arrival of fresh advices from Rome, which come so seldom that everybody is surprised at it, and that even should the Duke depart, he will travel so slowly that before crossing the Alps he will know the result of these negotiations; the general opinion being that if the Pope makes terms the King of France will renounce hostilities, should the agreement not be prejudicial to him (quando lo accordo non sia con suo preiuditio), of which, however, they are not without some suspicion, and the Papal agents here already allow it to escape them that the King's too long delay in openly declaring his intention of assisting the Pope, may have caused his Holiness not to show himself utterly abhorrent of the agreement (che Lei non si havesse dimostrata in tutto abborrente dall' accordo).
The Dauphin has had a relapse of quartan ague, but the paroxysms diminish; the Constable also has been ill from colic for four days, and remained at Ecouen, but will be at the court to-morrow.
Poissy, 10th November 1556.
[Italian, partly in cipher; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]


  • 1. The “sappers” were for the most part peasants, who marched “spade” in hand, the Italian word “zappa” signifying “spade,” and being pressed into the service they required watching.
  • 2. Then follow a few illegible words, of which I am enabled to give the sense through entries in the Foreign Calendar dated 18th October and 9th November 1556, and by means of the Index.
  • 3. He had refused to marry the King's natural daughter, on the plea of a prior engagement. (See Foreign Calendar, “Mary,” p. 271.)
  • 4. Guillaume de Nassau Dillembourg, then 24 years old, and who in 1579, at the age of 47, was nominated Stadtholder of Holland. (See Haydn's Dictionary of Dates, “Holland,” ed. London, 1863.)
  • 5. See Foreign Calendar, Mary, Index.
  • 6. There is a letter from Dr. Wotton to the Queen about this business, dated Paris, 29th October 1556, in Foreign Calendar, “Mary,” pp. 272, 273.
  • 7. “Ma ruinando la religione, et in Spagna et in Inghilterra et forsi in Polonia, se ben parea che per virtù del Revdo Nuntio Lippomano vi fosse qualche speranza, ma al sicuro in quel poco che resta in Germania.”
  • 8. Jean de Ligue. (See Foreign Calendar, 1553–1558, Index.)
  • 9. Compare with Mignet's “Charles-Quint son Abdication, &c.,” pp. 138–141, 145, 149, 152, ed. Paris, 1868.
  • 10. Don Carlos, then in his 11th year?
  • 11. Doña Juana, Princess of Portugal, the Emperor's daughter.
  • 12. Maria of Austria, Queen Dowager of Hungary?
  • 13. The blanks are caused by corrosion in the original.