Venice: November 1556, 21-25

Pages 804-812

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, 21–25

Nov. 21. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives. No. 7 B. p. 78, tergo. 719. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
Yesterday the Reverend Bishop of Liesina came and told me he understood that M. de Sipierre had arrived at the court of the King of the Romans in the name of his most Christian Majesty, and when I asked him if he knew the cause of this, he replied, “I believe that they may communicate with each other (per intertenersi), for the present King of France is a very able negotiator;” and on my urging him to speak freely with me, as he had promised to do, and as I expected, he replied, “All that I could tell you would be my own opinion by word of mouth, which if you wish me to do so I will put into writing, in order not to omit any office due from me to you and to those most illustrious Lords of mine;” and so to-day he sent me the writing which I enclose, (fn. 1) as also a plan of Hostia. Cardinal Caraffa and Cardinal Sta Fiora were to have left to-day to be near the site of the interview, but when already booted, their departure was delayed until to-morrow at an early hour. With this I send a supplement drawn up by the Cardinal Camerlengo [Sta Fiora] in case of any omission in the form of the truce, and he also wrote that King Philip had written a very bland letter to Cardinal Caraffa, of which I have obtained a copy, as also of the Cardinal's reply, made to-day to his Majesty, which writings (fn. 2) having been given me very secretly and confidentially I request your Serenity to have the utmost silence kept about them.
Rome, 21st November 1875.
Nov. 21. Deliberazioni Senato, Secreta, Vol. 70, pp. 53–4. verso e recto. 720. Commission for Ser Michiel Surian, Knight, Ambassador accredited to the most Serene King of Spain.
Is to follow his Royal Majesty whithersoever he shall go; and should he cross over to England, Surian will visit the Queen there, with the lettters of credence given to him, performing such office as becoming the friendship maintained by them with her Majesty.
He is also to visit the right reverend Legate [Pole], presenting him also in like manner with their letters of credence; and to perform the like office with such other personages of the Court as shall seem to him opportune, and to the Signory's dignity.
Ayes, 167. Noes, 0. Neutral, 0.
Nov. 22. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 721. Federico Badoer, Venetian Ambassador at Brussels, to the Doge and Senate.
Yesterday the deputies of these towns of Brabant had determined not to say another word in reply to the demand made of them about the money, and having said that they meant to depart, certain members of the Council interfered to induce the King to withdraw his demand, and the deputies their refusal, they making it appear that should the latter accommodate his Majesty with two tenths at present he might be satisfied with it; and the deputies of this town announced their firm intention of condescending to pay one tenth, and also of conceding to his Majesty the right to alienate to the amount of three hundred thousand crowns' worth of his patrimonial estates, which have been long mortgaged, a thing he cannot do of himself by reason of his compact with these people (con queste genti.)
To-morrow the deputies of Bolduc and Antwerp will give their answers, and should they be in conformity, the sum derived by his Majesty from Brabant will amount to 150,000 crowns. Don Bernardino de Mendoza is returned from Antwerp, having arranged with the German merchants who demanded payment of one million and four hundred thousand crowns due to them, to delay it for a yet longer period. He has also contracted with the Fuggers and other Spanish merchants for three hundred thousand crowns, assignments being made them in Castille, the product to be subsequently remitted to Italy, for which purpose a courier was despatched yesterday to Spain, from whence there are advices purporting that the Emperor had arrived at the monastery of S. Yuste. (fn. 3)
The day before yesterday a courier arrived from England with letters written by the Queen to King Philip, praying him very earnestly that, to provide against so many evils which might easily befall that kingdom, owing to the diversity of opinion of the Lords of the Council and other principal personages (altri signori principali), he should prepare to return to her, as there he might equally well attend to the despatch of his orders for Italy; Cardinal Pole having also written in like manner to Don Ruy Gomez, but so strongly as to imply that should his Majesty any longer delay going thither he might soon hear of something disagreeable and detrimental (potria tosto sentir cosa dispiacevole et dannosa), hinting at several practices secretly on foot amongst certain leading individuals of that realm (alcuni principali di quel regno). His Majesty replied that at present he does not see how he can comply with the Queen's wish, not only by reason of what the Pope may do to the injury of his affairs (delle cose sue), but also from the suspicion entertained by him of the other Italian potentates and of the King of France, owing to what is heard about his most Christian Majesty's preparations.
Count Marco di Megli, ambassador from the Duke of Ferrara, came to see me to-day, saying that to-morrow he is to take leave of the King and return to the Duke immediately, although no successor has come to replace him; and he told me besides that through Don Juan Manrique he had obtained from his Majesty in reward for services rendered by him to the Emperor during the war, and on account of a certain claim he has on a castle in the Milanese, six hundred thousand crowns (sic) annual revenue for his life, without being bound to render him any service.
A merchant who arrived here to-day from Denmark brings word that certain maritime towns, from disputes between one and the other of them about boundaries and other matters, had prepared a number of merchantmen for the purpose of fitting them out as ships of war, and from this cause, and owing to the war which still continues between the King of Sweden and the Muscovites, the usual supply of corn (formenti) from those parts has not been sent hither, so that the scarcity here is becoming very great indeed.
Brussels, 22nd November 1556.
Nov. 23. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 722. Giacomo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Duke de Guise left Paris on the 18th on his way to Lyons, and on the morrow the King went with a few attendants on a pleasure excursion (per sui piaceri), returning yesterday to St. Germain, and shortly before he left Paris the ambassador from Ferrara arrived and brings the ratification of his Duke's agreement with the King, which report circulated through the court this morning; but as the ambassador remained in Paris to rest himself, all that I have been able to learn hitherto is that he has accepted the agreement sent to him by the King through the Cardinal of Lorraine, as written by me repeatedly, and that immediately on the King's arrival at St. Germain the Constable sent many despatches, urging many persons to depart and join the Duke de Guise, who will give them their orders. During the last few days it has transpired that the said Duke of Ferrara has laid before the King the advantage which his duchy would derive, were the Duke de Guise on his march to seize Parma for him, to which effect he offered a greater amount of troops than was demanded of him by the King for another purpose, demonstrating how much it would be for his advantage to have the Duke of Florence on his confines (as would be the case were that city taken) rather than the King of England. Even before the Duke of Parma arranged his affairs with that sovereign, the Duke of Ferrara spoke to the King of France on the subject, exhorting him to give the Duke of Parma compensation in this kingdom, ceding the said city to him, the Duke of Ferrara, which having come to the knowledge of the Duke of Parma, was the chief cause of making him desert France; but as yet no decision is known, although it is reported that the whole will be accomplished, the design appearing very reasonable, both because the King of France is dissatisfied with the Duke of Parma, and also because, by making himself master of that pass, he would always have free transit towards Romagna; the Duke of Ferrara, moreover, representing the expedition as not very arduous, as it is said he guarantees the King by means of an understanding which he, the Duke, has within the city of Parma. The Duke of Parma's agent, Cavalier Tiburtio, requested the King to repay his Excellency the 120,000 crowns disbursed by Pope Paul III. for the counter-dower (contradote) assigned, in the name of the Duke's brother Horatio, to his wife, the daughter of the most Christian King, (fn. 4) by means of which repayment the Duke promised his Majesty by so much the more to secure his territory without having recourse to others for assistance, his Excellency wishing (so far as in his power) that the King should never witness any result at variance with his (the Duke's) good will and with his obligations to his Majesty; but the King replied that for the present he found it inconvenient to give him the aforesaid sum, and Tiburtio, perceiving the King to speak in a certain tone not quite favourable to the Duke, suspects his Majesty of not choosing to give him the money lest the Farneses strengthen themselves yet more against France. Subsequently, when talking about this with my secretary Franceschi, with whom he is very intimate, he said that the refusal to give this money, were his Duke to turn entirely in favour of the King of England, might always give him occasion to say that had the King of France given him his own he would have been able to defend himself without the assistance of others; which I have chosen to write to your Serenity, that you may know how the suspicions increase in every quarter.
M. de Lavigna, who, as I wrote on the 16th, is to go to Constantinople, has not yet departed, but his commission is prepared, and it is said he will depart in two or three days; and as he is a great friend of mine Franceschi has visited him in my name, offering him all favour in your Serenity's name.
According to advices received the body of the deceased Duke de Bouillon was opened, and from what is said publicly many marks of poison were found in his intestines.
Poissi, 23rd November 1556.
[Italian, partly in cipher; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
Nov. 23. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 723. Giovanni Michiel, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
On Wednesday last the 18th instant, at one and the same time, Francesco Piamontese returned from Brussels, and from France the secretary of the Queen's ambassador there, both one and the other having travelled with such speed that the one came from Paris to London in 25 hours, and the other out and home from Brussels (although detained there during a day and a half) in five days.
Since their arrival until now the ministers and Cardinal Pole may be said to have been in very close consultation, assembling every day at 6 a.m., well nigh before daybreak, until the dinner hour, and after noon until 6 p.m., or about the second hour of the night according to the Italian fashion. This proceeding is unusual, and Lord Paget having been confined to the house by indisposition for upwards of a month, they even urged him on no account to absent himself from the Council board, and although he apologized as not being in a state to be able to go abroad, I understand that what he could not do by word of mouth in their presence was done by him in writing, and that he gave his opinion about what had been asked him at full length. The speed of the couriers and these long and extraordinary consultations indicate the gravity and importance of the matter which is being treated so secretly that as yet no one has been able to elicit anything certain about it, although from conjecture and conversation rather than from knowledge many things have been and still continue to be said, some persons declaring that some fresh conspiracy in virtue of an understanding with the French has been discovered, or some design of the French themselves on the fortresses of certain places either here or across the Channel. Others, on the contrary, believe the business to be some request from the King to the Queen to the effect that should the truce be broken, as is feared, war be also waged by England against France, and if this cannot or will not be done, that at least a subsidy of money or troops be given, by reason of the great preparations of the French, for Italy and all the borders; but be it as it may the deliberation proceeds so silently that to know anything more about it is difficult. It has been determined for the Earl of Pembroke to cross the Channel, and in two days he will go to Calais, nor is it known (fn. 5) [whether he is?] betaking himself to the King. He has ordered his whole household to follow, (fn. 6) and it is said that from suspicion entertained all the guards will be changed. According to report the Admiral also has been sent to France, but it is not said for what purpose, although the people murmur and declare it is to protest war (per protestation di guerra), which seems to be considered certain, but those who discourse more authentically neither vouch for the Admiral's departure, nor as yet do they hear of any decision about war, or perceive any signs of it.
Last night the courier Gamboa was sent back in haste to Brussels so possibly through that channel rather than through this your Serenity may be able to ascertain what has been decided.
The Lady Elizabeth is expected here in four days from the country, nor is it yet known whether she will lodge in the palace with the most Serene Queen, or in her own house [Somerset Place], with her attendants.
On Friday last the 20th instant, and not until then, the Black Monks of St. Benedict were put in possession of the Abbey of Westminster, together with all its revenues, as many as 16 having taken the habit on that day, and it was a very beautiful sight, most agreeable to those who witnessed it. The possession was given by the Right Reverend the Lord Chancellor [Nicholas Heath, Archbishop of York] and by Cardinal Pole's Datary [Ormanetto], as public persons, both royal and apostolic authority being necessary to legalize it. (fn. 7)
London, 23rd November 1556.
Nov. 24. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 724. Federico Badoer, Venetian Ambassador at Ghent, to the Doge and Senate.
Yesterday the King dined in public, which he has not done for many days, owing to his indisposition, and in the afternoon (et dapoi pranzo) he remained a long while in the Council of State, the principal matter treated being whether it was necessary at present to send back to your Serenity Don Francisco de Vargas or Count Chinchon, the one by reason of his experience in such matters as might have to be transacted with your Serenity, and as a person dear to you, according to the testimony afforded by your letters; the other as a very illustrious nobleman, with an annual rental of 12,000 crowns, and who heretofore went in the King's name to congratulate the Pope on his accession. Don Francisco has told the King and all his councillors clearly that he cannot return to Venice, being obliged to provide for his children and to transact other business than that of embassies, but if it be imposed on him, he says he would not exchange that of Venice for Rome, still less for others, nor as yet can any hope of greater honour and reward given him or caused to be given him by the King induce him to accept the post; so his Majesty being unable to employ Vargas, and not wishing to trust so important an affair as the present one with your Serenity is considered, to Count Chinchon, has been counselled to allow a few days to pass, that he may see how Don Luis de Ayala conducts himself, and what turn his negotiations take, as here they still continue doubtful of what your Serenity may do in case the adjustment with the Pope be not effected.
Some of the chief French merchants have already left Antwerp on their way home, and the others are selling their merchandise in haste, lest from day to day the truce be broken.
The Prince of Orange will depart this week to attend the Imperial Diet, being sent as commissioner of the Emperor, (fn. 8) and also of King Philip, as Prince of the Empire, in right of some of these provinces, which are situated in the tenth circle of Germany. It is generally said that he is commissioned by the Emperor to refer to the will of the princes the election of a King of the Romans, as he holds his brother in lieu of his Majesty (tenendo il serenmo fratello in luogo della Maestà sua); but others are of opinion that he is designedly sending so distinguished a personage, and with such orders, as to be calculated to dissuade those who purpose doing so, rather than to permit the carrying into effect of the general opinion now prevalent in Germany, not to leave the Empire with one sole head.
Yesterday Don Alvaro de Sande, (fn. 9) who has been appointed warder at Sienna and colonel of the Spanish infantry, departed hence with pay and authority almost equal to those of a general, and there has arrived here the Cavalier Ardinghello, he having been sent by the Duchess of Parma to provide apartments and other necessaries for her coming.
Brussels, 24th November 1556.
Nov. 24. Lettere Secrete, Capi Conso X., File No. 5, Venetian Archives. Legatis solus.
725. The Chiefs of the Ten to the Bailiff of Padua (Potestati Paduœ).
As the reverend ambassador of the most Serene Queen of England might have inquiry made of you (potria farvi ricercare) whether you have answered any letter of ours, we, with the chiefs of our Council of Ten, hereby warn you that in this case you do answer them (li rispondiate) that that casket having been sealed with so many seals, and deposited at the request of several persons in the hands of your predecessor, you choose to inform yourself thoroughly about it, to give especial account to our Signory, to whom you will reply speedily; wherefore, should the said ambassador speak to us about this matter we shall answer him conformably, warning you to write on this subject in your hand to the chiefs of the said Council, not communicating anything to any person.
Ser . . . . .
Ser Aloysius Gritti C.C.X.
Ser Paulus Conts. C.C.X.
Nov. 25. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives, No. 7 B. p. 79. 726. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
On the 22nd Cardinal Caraffa went to the Magliana on his way to the site of the conference, unaccompanied by Cardinal Sta. Fior, as anticipated, because when released from Castle St. Angelo, (fn. 10) having given security in 100,000 crowns not to quit Rome, he required from the Pope a written certificate to the effect that on absenting himself for this conference the securities would not be molested. This the Pope refused, and therefore, when waiting booted and spurred for Cardinal Caraffa's orders, and to know the hour of departure, he was told that for the present it would be well for him to remain where he was. The hope of any good result from the interview was thus the more diminished, as it transpired that Cardinal Caraffa had not received any positive authority from the Pope to conclude, his commission being limited to listening, and then he was to report to his Holiness what had been said, and in what the difficulty consisted.
Cardinal Caraffa took with him Santa Fiora's dependant Placido, who had been sent several times on this business, remaining Sunday and Monday at Magliana to make suitable arrangements for the interview, and sent first the Gascon Chienchio, and then his secretary Sachetti, to urge the Pope to allow Cardinal Sta. Fiora to come, the Imperialists wishing very much for him, as matters had been brought to their present state through his mediation. The Pope would not consent, saying it did not please him to send a person who was petitioned for so earnestly by the adverse party, and by so much the more as the Cardinal his nephew had nothing to do but to hear the Duke of Alva and then report to him.
Yesterday at 12 o'clock Cardinal Caraffa and the Duke of Alva met on the island under a tent, equidistant from the two armies, remaining there alone until after 4 p.m., and departed very cheerfully (molto allegri) after arranging to meet again this morning. The Cardinal despatched postwise the “Auditor di Rota,” Fantuccio, with a letter to the Pope, which his Holiness sent to the Duke of Paliano this morning, and which announced the great satisfaction of one and the other, and the determination to resume the conference on the morrow, which has caused the court again to hope that the agreement so universally desired might take effect, especially as to-day at dinner the Pope said much in praise of the peace, hoping it would take place, and that for this purpose he would have recourse to jubilees and processions, nor would he accept it unless it were lasting (perpetua), undisturbed (tranquilla), and secure for all parties, and that if it were not effected, he anticipated the most horrible war that had been waged within the last 500 years, adding “Nonne duodceim sunt horœ diei?” and if Satan can render a righteous man wicked why should we doubt the power of the Almighty to make a wicked man righteous (ct se Satan può far un bon tristo, perche si de' dubitar che il grande Iddio possi far un tristo bono); at the very moment when there is the least hope of adjusting every difficulty.” I do not know what to hope, nor what to fear, about so great and so ready a change of mind. They are working very hard at the fortifications of Civitavecchia and Cornato (sic), and the Imperialists are doing the like at the fortress commenced by them near the sea towards Hostia.
The day before yesterday the Pope sent for Aurelio Fregoso, and recommended to him the custody of this city and of his own person, during this absence of the Cardinal, and has chosen him to go and reside in the palace.
The kinsfolk of the Count of Petigliano, (fn. 11) who was imprisoned in Castle St. Angelo, are urging the French agents here to request that he may be placed in the hands of the most Christian King, proposing his transmission to Mont' Alcino, or to the Court, as may be commanded, or else that he will give security to the amount of 200,000 crowns to appear, or not to depart from the residence assigned him.
Rome, 25th November 1556.


  • 1. Not found, which is much to be regretted, as this “writing” would perhaps have thrown light on the real state of affairs between the Emperor and his brother, when the former was embarking for Spain in September 1556, and which cannot be ascertained by the last letter in the “Correspondenz des Kaisers” (vol. 3, p. 711).
  • 2. They do not exist in the letter-book.
  • 3. On the 12th November 1556 the Emperor arrived at Jarandilla, and took up his abode in the beautiful villa of the Count of Oropesa, from which he had a view of the monastery of S. Yuste, but he did not establish himself there until the 3rd of February 1557. (See Mignet, pp. 158, 199.)
  • 4. In the year 1553, Orazio Farnese, Duke de Castro, married Diane, the natural daughter of Henry II. by a Piedmontese named Filippa Due, and Orazio Farnese was killed at Hesdin six months after his marriage; subsequently she became the wife of the Constable's second son, the Marshal de Montmorency. In Venetian Calendar, Vol. 5, p. 416, there is a letter of condolence on this event from Cardinal Pole to Cardinal Farnese, dated Trent, 2nd October 1553. I derive the name of the mother of the Duchess of Castro from the biographical dictionary published at Bassano in the year 1796, and I quote my authority in case it be supposed that she was the daughter of Diane de Poitiers, Duchess of Valentinois.
  • 5. A few words illegible from corrosion.
  • 6. In Machyn's Diary, p. 119, there is the following entry:—“The xxv day of November [1556] my lord of Pembroke toke ys barge toward Cales, and” (unfinished).
  • 7. According to Machyn's Diary, pp. 118, 119, the new Abbot of Westminster, Dr. Fecknam, was “putt in” on the 21st November, “and xiiij moo moukes shorne in, and the morrow after the Lord Abbot with his convent went a procession after the old fashion in their monks' weeds, in cowls of black say,” &c.
  • 8. For the commission given by the Emperor to the Prince of Orange and his colleagues, see the two last letters in Lanz's collection, the one dated Brussels, 8th August 1556, the other Zutbourg, 12th September 1556 (vol. 3, pp. 707—712, Leipzic, 1846). These two letters merely contain the public instructions; the private ones probably related to the grade of vicar of the Empire, which the Emperor wished the Diet to confer on King Philip.
  • 9. For name, see Sir William Hackett's Index to the late Mr. Turnbull's Calendar, “Mary.”
  • 10. In the late Mr. Turnbull's Calendar, p. 183, there is a letter from Sir Edward Carne mentioning the imprisonment of Cardinal Sta. Fiora on the 31st August 1555; and at p. 191 his release is recorded, “he being bound in a large sum not to leave Rome without permission.”
  • 11. Nicolò Orsini, chief captain of the Pope's artillery. (See the late Mr. Turnbull's Foreign Calendar, 26th September 1556, and Index.)