Venice: December 1556, 11-15

Pages 850-868

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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December 1556, 11–15

Dec. 11. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives, No. 7 B. p. 90. 755. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, and Secretary Febo Capella, to the Doge and Senate.
The letters from your Serenity and the most Excellent Senate dated the 5th instant having charged us to let the Pope and his nephews know what the King of Spain wrote to you on the 20th ultimo about his Majesty's goodwill towards the peace, and the fresh orders sent by him to the Duke of Alva, we went at 1 p.m., when his Holiness was still at table with Cardinals Morone and Armagnac, (fn. 1) and in the audience chamber we found the Cardinal “Decano” [De Bellai], with whom I, ambassador, discoursed, and he said that the Pope had been beyond measure offended by the Imperialists, and that for so great a sin great reparation was required; that Cardinal de Tournon had always given assurance here of the King's wish for peace with the Emperor and others, more than he, De Bellai, would have done; that the King had always been the obedient son of the Vicars of Christ, and that he would now show himself such by deeds; and then his Holiness, having entered the chamber, accompanied by the two cardinals aforesaid, who had dined with him, and by Cardinal San Giacomo, who joined them afterwards, withdrew to a window with De Bellai, I, ambassador, in the meanwhile discussing various topics with Morone and Armagnac, who both evinced a great desire for the peace, Cardinal Morone saying, “Would to God, lord ambassador, that everybody was of the same mind as Cardinal Armagnac, for in that case non laboraremus;” in confirmation of which words Armagnac said, “With my substance, my life, and my honour I would fain procure this peace, for the conclusion of which there is no better mediator than the most illustrious Republic;” my reply being that your Serenity had not omitted any office suited to so pious and very Christian an end, and both of them then said that it was impossible to do more than had been done. We then entered upon various subjects, including literature and the affairs of Constantinople, and in the meanwhile there entered the chamber the Duke of Paliano with the Marquis Montebello, who had just arrived, and came in his boots to kiss the Pope's foot, after which they departed.
His Holiness, on dismissing De Bellai, having made the cardinals draw a little aside, called us to audience, still leaning at that window (pur apoggiata a quella fenestra), where I, ambassador, having stated the contents of the aforesaid letters in your Serenity's own words, the Pope said, “If you choose to let yourselves be deceived by those Imperialists (da costoro), so much the worse for you; they will not deceive us; they are rogues (sono tristi), renegade moriscos (marani), children of the devil and of iniquity (figlioli del diavolo et della iniquità), for that youth [Philip II.] (quel giovine), as we told you heretofore, is already living in the Lutheran fashion. We know them, and would to God that you knew them for what they are before they teach it you by some example very greatly to your detriment. They have not done the mischief they were unable to do, nor will they do that which will not be in their power. You are witnesses that we on our part have not failed to do everything for the peace; we even sent them our Cardinal as often as was needed; but to speak freely with you, as we always have done, we tell you that the way to give peace to Italy is to expel these barbarians (à cacciar questi barbari), and we and you together alone, without those others, would suffice for it, provided we had a good understanding together. O God! where are those heroic spirits, those good and venerable old men who when I was in Venice presided over the government of that Republic, and desired nothing but such an opportunity, and instead of allowing it to escape them would have seized it by the forelock (ma pigliata per li capelli che ha in fronte), for centuries will pass before the accession of a Pope determined to free Italy as we are, or of one who loves the most illustrious Signory more than we do, even were he a Venetian by birth (perchè passeranno centenara d'anni, che non verrà un Papa, che habbi il pensier de liberar Italia che habbiamo noi, nè che più ami quella Sigria Illma di noi, anco che fusse nato Venetiano). If we could speak with those lords about this matter, and consult and rejoin, we should hope to bring them over to our opinion by strong arguments, demonstrating to them the common weal of Italy, their own honour and greatness, and might it not perhaps be effected with little toil? A kingdom extremely discontented with its government harassed and distressed in a way to move stones to pity; the Imperialists (loro) having few forces, little money, and an army fatigued and discontented, for the Marquis of Montebello, whom you saw here (we having sent for him), might have passed by the Abruzzi without any resistance even to the gates of Naples, but we stopped him, because he had no army in his rear to enable him to retain acquisitions:—should the Signory decide the undertaking would be accomplished before being mentioned. Were the Republic to send 50 galleys into the waters of Puglia, while we pushed on from here, there would be an end of the Imperialists (actum esset di loro), and we would divide the kingdom of Naples with you, giving you the best part of it, which is all gold, reserving for the See Apostolic (as we will not have anything for our relatives, because Christ will provide for them) the territory here at hand called Terra di Campagna (sic) (Terra di Lavoro?), where Naples is situated. In discoursing with you we overstep all bounds, and open our heart with the certainty that everything will be kept secret, and that neither you nor the Signory, by revealing it, will deceive God, us, and yourselves, although we know that there are some who from opinion, and others from passion, think contrary to us (senteno contra di noi). To those who do so from opinion we wish them well for it, because they suppose themselves to be serving their Republic, but those who do so from passion, and are bribed by the Imperialists (da costoro), do not find any favour with us, nor do we consider them worthy to be styled Venetian gentlemen (gentilhomeni di quella Repca).”
I, ambassador, then said I could assure his Holiness that the object of each of those Lords was the common weal of their country, but should anyone sell himself and his country to any sovereign, he would be disgraced by the Republic and deprived of life, property, and honour, he and all his posterity, wherefore I should do the greatest service to your Serenity by letting you know the individual. He replied, “What we have told you would suffice, and we tell you besides that we know it for certain, and that with us they gain nothing whatever, for by God we would not appoint such men to a game of snowballs (che per Dio non chiamassamo questi tali al gioco della neve), still less to any dignity or government office. Sed redeuntes unde digressa est oratio, we repeat to you that with very little toil we should rid our shoulders of this calamitous yoke and unbecoming servitude, provided my Signory (mia Signoria) determine speedily to take pity on the tears of this afflicted Italy, who has turned her sorrowful eyes to that dominion, asking their aid as from the sole power capable of releasing them, thus increasing their own state, and with the certainty of maintaining it, for nothing could be more just than the deprivation of these Imperialists (perchè la privatione di questi non potria esser più giusta). There are a thousand causes for it, and the investiture of the Signory would be perfectly just, as it would be made in recompense for assistance rendered by you to us; and then, as the territory borders on the See Apostolic, there would never be cause for apprehension, the Signory always having some cardinal there, and we, for the better establishment of the Republic in those parts, would not have any scruple (rispetto) about finding individuals amongst your nobility good and suited to that charge, and giving that red hat to many of your patricians. You must, however, act speedily, for the opportunity is escaping us, and also with secrecy, because if it were known we should be tricked (burlati), and give cause to these renegade moriscos (marani) to practise on you with their diabolical artifices. They are well aware of what you can do, and how easily we might annihilate them, and therefore they cajole you with fine words and false promises. What could they reproach you with if, when Sultan Soliman and all Christendom is arming, you also arm, both by land and sea, without giving it to be understood what you mean to do, and then, when the point is sharpened, you might turn your forces where you pleased, and in a moment the mortar-piece would be fired; and besides the immortal glory you would gain as the liberators of Italy, you would place under your dominion a territory exempting you from fear of famine at any time, as it yields grain, wine, oil, and fruit, and comprises certain cities which belonged to you of yore, and desire to be yours. We should wish (as we told you heretofore) to be able to make you masters of all Italy, because we are certain it would be for the general good (de beneficio universal), but it is requisite to give a small share of it to the See Apostolic, lest it seem that we are unmindful of her. Why does not God make us find mental reciprocity in those from whom it is due? Why, O Lord, hast Thou made me know what a great benefit this would be to Italy, if Thou wouldst not manifest it to the others likewise? My grief would be less not to know it than to see and be unable to effect it. Lord, if (as I am certain) Thou hast already determined, delay no longer enlightening those who are to be its chief ministers; show the Republic of Venice what her obligations to Thee are for having made her the greatest and most durable that ever was, for having defended her for 1,100 years and upwards against civil strife and foreign invasion, and inspire her at this season of Thy most holy Nativity to favour Thy cause, to release this miserable Italy, and to embrace her welfare (et ad abbracciar il suo bene).” And here, lowering his eyes, which whilst uttering the aforesaid words had been raised to heaven, he added, “We will open our heart to you, because in you, magnifico ambassador, in this faithful secretary [Febo Capella], and in this other good son, (fn. 2) we place confidence, and we are certain that you will write it to his Sublimity, the secretary [Capella] reporting it moreover by word of mouth, and that the Signory will not allow it to get abroad and be divulged, as otherwise we should consider ourselves deceived by them; nor do we choose to have to reproach ourselves with not having told you the whole.
We spoke to you heretofore about the kingdom of Sicily, and we persevere in the project, and have written account of it to the King of France, whose reply we are expecting, but this was in case he came in great force (gagliardo) to invade the kingdom of Naples, so as to leave him a fat part (una parte grassa), but his affairs requiring time, as to fly is impossible, although he does his best, and is an obedient son, he alone having ben constant in wishing to assist us,—for, as you must know, the chief lords in France are always tilting against each other, and for the maintenance of their opinions, and to worst their rivals, they do not mind turning the kingdom topsy-turvy (sotto sopra), so that they delay,—and the business requiring despatch, we determined to show you what we could do of ourselves and to offer you such share as we have done, and the Almighty perhaps wills it thus for the best, as it would suit us to make the French halt in Piedmont, whilst we do our own business here; and were it to be said they will take the Milanese, God speed them, as if they take it we will then again turn them in our fashion (a modo nostro).
But to return to the partition of the kingdom of Naples between us, it will not seem strange to you, for, as you must know, it was made of yore between King Lewis [XII. of France] and the Catholic King [Ferdinand of Aragon], and had they not made a mistake about the names of the provinces, in like manner as the division was pacific, so would the possession have been tranquil; but they reckoned only four provinces, whereas they are six or seven, so when fixing the boundaries difficulties arose, and they came to blows, each party laying claim to the territory not mentioned in the partition treaty. The French were victorious so long as they blockaded in Barletta (on your Gulf) Gonsalvo of Cordova, who was half pounded (mezo apestado), (fn. 3) but when he got out he routed them. With us, however, the partition would be made in such a way as to render it stable, and should a foreign power choose to attack either of us, our united forces would not fear anyone, the skilful form of government in the next place guaranteeing us against the subjected inhabitants in such a way that we should close the gate against the barbarians (la destrezza poi del dominar ne assicureria dalli pop suggetti, talmente che veniressemo a serrar la porta a barbari). We will moreover tell you that should the Duke of Florence see you determined, he would gladly implore our protection. This would be the way to consolidate a good peace in Italy for many years according to the desire and entreaty of the most illustrious Signory so may God open your eyes and make you know what is for your profit and honour. For the present we have nothing more to tell you, except that the French will soon be in marching order, and that the Duke de Guise is coming, a personage of importance, who is bringing with him, besides many other lords, his two sons, the two cardinals of Lorraine and Guise remaining about the King's person, and they will always support their own faction. M. de Termes is coming as lieutenant-general, a man no less brave than good and honest, and a good Christian, as we know him to be, for whilst we were yet cardinal he told us that he was most faithful and devoted to his King, and that in one thing only would he disobey him, namely, were he commanded to arm against the Vicar of Christ;” and here the Pope dwelt on his praises, as usual with him, and as he knows how to do, adding, “If you choose to form a famous resolve, in conformity with that greatness of mind which ought to be in you, we alone will effect it here, and stop the French in Piedmont, as we told you (et li fermaremo, come vi habbiam ditto, di là).”
The Pope then remained silent, and I, ambassador, said, “Holy Father, through the Almighty, the King of Spain will give such satisfaction to your Holiness that you will be enabled with dignity to let Italy enjoy that profound peace which is so much desired and sought for by my most Serene Signory, and all the benefit to be derived by the world from it (nor can greater be imagined) will be attributed entirely to your piety and prudence.”
He replied, that the way to make peace was what he had told me above, repeating the same things, nor did he yet show any wish to end; and seeing so many cardinals waiting in the chamber, besides the ambassadors from Florence and Ferrara, who were outside, I said to him, that your Serenity had sent me some advices from Constantinople with orders to communicate them to his Holiness. I had them read to him, after which he again resumed the same topics, having kept us upwards of two hours, saying, “We shall always give you precedence over all the cardinals and ambassadors.”
Thereupon we took leave and went to Cardinal Caraffa, who was in the chamber, with his brothers the Duke and the Marquis. I, ambassador, congratulated the Duke on his convalescence, and the Marquis on his return, and repeated the contents of your Serenity's aforesaid letters. The Cardinal replied, that every day increased the obligations of his family to your Sublimity, and that in like manner as Don Carlo Caraffa [the Cardinal himself] told the Emperor and the King of France, when in their service, that for them he would stake his life against anyone, except against the most illustrious Signory of Venice, from no other tie than because he was born an Italian; how much more now, when he and his brothers have been accepted by your Serenity, as your sons and servants, may it be believed that they are ready to do service to that most excellent dominion, declaring that in any case, either of peace or war, your Serenity will find the Caraffa family not useless to you, although certain persons had endeavoured to prove the contrary, as for instance, when he went to France the Emperor sent for your Serenity's ambassador, and told him that he, Caraffa, had gone to France, not for peace, but to endeavour to make war upon his Imperial Majesty, wishing to make one of the two sons of the most Christian King, Duke of Milan, and the other King of Naples, and to make the Queen cede to her consort the claims laid by her to the Duchy of Urbino, to take it for the House of Valois; (fn. 4) that it would be proposed to your Serenity to make a league, offering you Sicily and Puglia, which they did not possess, but that should the Signory choose to make a defensive league with his Imperial Majesty, he would give them what he is in possession of, and can give. The Cardinal added, “That prudent ambassador replied that he would make the communication to his Lords. I very soon heard this thing, and before telling the King of it, I announced it to the Signory's ambassador, as I did every other event, and as I always have done here with you, magnifico Ambassador, and as I shall do for the future. These words of the Emperor had solely for object to make the Signory distrust us, and to persuade them that the King, after making himself master of the duchy of Milan and the kingdom of Naples, and having deprived the Duke of Urbino of his state, their affairs would be in a bad way, he not perceiving that what he said was impossible, by reason of the Pope's love for the Republic, and of our obligations to the Signory. Then with regard to the Duke of Urbino, we have cause to remain satisfied with him, because he has always done what he could for our service, nor was it by the Pope's will that he resigned, for, on the contrary, he detained him many days, not choosing to give him leave; but then at length he would not compel him, having first conferred on him the dignity of Prefect of Rome, with descent to his eldest son and successor in the duchy, which post his Holiness might have given to one of my brothers, who at the time were without any grade. But enough of this; those words were uttered with craft, as used by the Imperialists in all their affairs. But to speak to the point: I say that God knows (and your lordships can bear witness to it) the desire of the Pope, and of all of us, for peace, and that the interests of our family would never disturb it; may His Divine Majesty grant that they speak the truth, and not do as they did when they commenced war, having their agent Pirro dell' Offredo here to treat peace, and when they were sending Molza to the powers of Italy (alli principi d'Italia) to pray and exhort the Pope in favour of quiet. Should they speak the truth, and if the agreement can be made to the dignity of his Holiness, we shall obtain what is wished for; if not, everybody will know that the failure does not proceed from us, as the Duke of Alva, having had fresh orders from his King, can no longer excuse himself on the plea of not having liberty; so let him come to particulars, let the difficulties be discussed, as we shall soon see what may be hoped about them; nor may they think to find us unprepared, for during these days, whilst the truce lasts, we shall incur the same expenditure as before.”
He then whispered in the ear of me, ambassador, “I shoud not wish for barbarians in Italy; the Pope and the Signory would suffice to free her. We shall not be at a loss (as I believe) for a prolongation of the truce, to enable us subsequently to do as the Almighty may inspire us;” and with this we took our leave.
Rome, 11th December 1556.
Dec. 11. Lettere del Collegio (Secreta), File No. 20. 756. Doge Lorenzo Priuli to Queen Mary.
This is the third year in which our beloved noble, Giovanni Michiel, fills the post of ambassador from us to your Royal Majesty; so as he has often asked leave to return home, the demand seeming to us reasonable, we have thought fit to grant it; and as he has terminated his legation to your Majesty, we request permission for him to come back to us forthwith.
[In virtue of an Act passed in the Senate on the 5th December, and read to the sages on both sides (utriusque manus).]
Dec. 12. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives, No. 7 B. p. 93, &c. 757. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
The Bishop of Liesina [Zaccaria Dolfin] tells me that he lately received advices from Germany that one Aurelio Cicuta of Veglia, having been sent by his most Christian Majesty to the King of the Romans, assured the latter that he had never been the cause of inducing Sultan Soliman to invade his territories, and informing him that the said Sultan proposes coming into Hungary; so he the King of France counsels King Ferdinand to fortify his frontiers, and to adjust matters in Germany, persuading him to move King Philip to cede the duchy of Milan to one of his sons (ad alcun delli soi figlioli), and form some matrimonial alliance; to which suggestion the King of the Romans replied in general terms.
Rome, 12th December 1556.
Dec. 12. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives, No. 7 B. p. 93, tergo. 758. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
Cardinal S. Giacomo says that the Duke of Alva could not be better inclined towards quiet than he is, and that he did not commence the war until after the third order from King Philip, in which (nel qual) he was gently reproved (era ripreso modestamente) for this act of disobedience; and having entered upon it unwillingly, he easily condescended to what Cardinal Caraffa desired, so as to arrive at some fair adjustment, which his Excellency hoped for because Cardinal Caraffa desired it, and much more after the Duke by strong reasons had convinced him how injurious the war was for this See Apostolic and his family, and on the other hand, how advantageous and honourable the peace would be to them, unbosoming himself to him entirely; which so moved the Cardinal that he told the Duke clearly, that the Pope had been the cause of many things which he (Caraffa) was unable to prevent. Cardinal S. Giacomo also says the Duke showed him the letter written by him to his King, than which nothing could be more Christian and forcible in favour of the adjustment, so that unless this side fails in what the Cardinal seems to wish, and discussed with the Duke of Alva, he hopes peace will ensue, Cardinal Pacheco being of the same opinion; Cardinal S. Giacomo saying, moreover, that should the war continue, he does not think that his nephew the Duke will again take the field.
Aurelio Fregoso told me that the chief reason he saw for the peace is, the Pope's small means for making war, as even were the assistance sent him by the French as considerable as they represent it (which he does not admit), and if it were to come to Rome (a thing they could not do easily, having to traverse many difficult passes), yet would it not suffice to take the kingdom of Naples, though it might indeed famish Rome; for if during the past months it has suffered with these few troops, what would it do hereafter on the arrival of ten or twelve thousand men, with so many horses. Besides this, the Duke of Florence, with some German regiments, sent for by the Cardinal of Trent, falling on their rear, and, in front, they finding the frontiers of the kingdom of Naples well guarded as far as the gates of Rome, some important reverse might take place; so that the Pope being informed of these dangers, and assured that the design against the kingdom of Naples is not so easy as he believes, it may reasonably be supposed that he will choose the safer course and make terms.
Cardinal Sermoneta told my secretary that the Duke of Alva seems to him very courteous in words, but less so in substance, as they could never make him say that he would abandon Paliano; and facts, moreover, do not look well, as he has commenced a fortress on the island, to make himself master of the whole of the river, and Count Pepoli, who remained in command of the places in the Campagna, lately stopped the post on his way from hence to Naples, taking the letters and opening them. These proceedings cannot be commended, nor do they indicate goodwill.
Cardinal Caraffa told a very great confidant of his that he is sending Giulio Orsini to France, not merely to ascertain the King's intention, but to let him know through an eye-witness what preparation and provision have been made, and thereby determine on war or peace. The ambassador from Florence, after having had a very long conversation with the Cardinal, told me it seemed to him that he wished for the agreement on account of his family, and said as it were (et li ha in certo modo detto) that what is being done at present is now for the satisfaction of the French; and although this is contrary to what the Pope has always said to me, and last of all yesterday, his nephews speaking in like manner, I nevertheless mention this to your Serenity.
Giulio Orsini departed on Thursday morning for France, and Fantuccio last evening for the court of King Philip, and on the morning before last the latter told my secretary he was coming to me to request I would write to your Serenity to perform fresh offices with the King of Spain to induce him to do by the Pope what is in accordance with divine and human law, and with all fairness, namely, to restore to him his honour by submission and reverence so that his Majesty may be thus enabled (to use Fantuccio's own word, which I consider worthy of consideration) to cheat the Pope (ingannar sua Santità), without which no good will be done; adding, “Here the Duke of Alva has promised much, but when over there (de là) I suspect I shall find the contrary.” Fantuccio subsequently came to me, preferring the same suit, to which I replied that your Serenity never had failed, nor would you fail to perform every possible office for quiet, and that I was certain your ambassador with King Philip would aid it to his utmost, and that I prayed God to grant him (Fantuccio) the grace to bring this business to the desired end, as was anticipated from his prudence and ability. He rejoined, that he in truth had need that prayers should be offered for him, both to God and man, as he was going on an expedition easy and impossible; easy, because according to all reason a war, commenced it may be said in jest, ought not to have such deep roots as to prevent their extirpation, which would be effected, provided the King humbled himself; impossible, owing to the nature of the Princes with whom the negotiation has to be transacted, and their distrust of each other, the one holding to his dignity, the other to security. So all he can say is that he will do his duty and depart hence, although not quite ready, that the vulgar may no longer have cause to talk, and that he shall go to Bologna, his birthplace, there to await what he is short of, and that he expects to arrive at the court of King Philip in 16 or 18 days. I thanked him for his visit, and assured him that the more important and difficult the business, the more would his consummate ability distinguish itself; and so much the greater would Italy's obligation to him be for his having obtained the desired result.
Here they have imprisoned a courier who was on his way from the King of Spain to Naples, seizing his despatches, to retaliate for what the Imperialists did by the post (procaccio), saying, that if they stopped the post because he had no licence and that a clause in the truce forbids the post to enter garrisoned places without a license, they detained the courier for the same cause, as he had no license to pass through Rome, and that on the release of the post they would release the courier ; but on the same day, the latter, by order of Cardinal Carafta, was set at liberty and allowed to proceed on his journey. The day before yesterday they sent sappers from hence to complete the fortress the}r are building there, and they mustered the infantry and cavalry now in Koine, which proved to be of very small amount, it being said that more than one third of them had deserted. Yesterday they commenced paying the infantry, and gave the cavalry one hundred ducats for each company, sending them very discontented to Orvieto, Bagnarea, and those environs, where they can be conveniently supplied with victuals and forage.
Flaminio da Stabio has brought Cardinal Caratta the design for the fortification of Civitavecchia, which is commended, and he says it is so advanced that at little cost, and in a short time, he will finish it. The Duke of Ferrara has written to his ambassador that the Marquis of Pescara went lately to Piacenza to make Duke Ottavio resolve to be Imperial, and that Cardinal Farnese answered him that they shall regulate themselves according to the resolution of the Duke of Ferrara.
Gobbo the courier has come from France in 13 days, bringing news that the most Christian King has issued fresh commissions for captains; that he has letters from the Duke de Guise at La Charité, saying, that about the middle of this month he will be in Piedmont, where he hopes to have the army in marching order; and the courier says by word of mouth that the six thousand Switzers had set out, and the four thousand would be ready to march in four or six days, these last remaining in Piedmont.
The Duke of Alva continued his journey (viaggio) towards Naples, having left garrisons in the fortresses of Hostia and the other places, putting Spaniards in them and disbanding the Italians. He has divided the cavalry between Frascati, Tivoli, Anagni, and the territory of Marc' Antonio Colonna, dismissing the noblemen and barons who had followed him and are styled “continui,” as also the rest of the cavalry, which has suffered from staying in the open country (in campagna). The Imperial fleet, which was in Porto S. Stefano, and together with all the troops on board suffered from scarcity of provisions, and of everything else, is gone to Elba to recruit, and from thence will steer such course as shall be commanded.
The Duke of Monteleone, who, as I wrote, was unable to obtain audience in the Pope's chamber, determined to kiss his foot at table, and did so, accompanied by the Duke of Paliano; the Pope scarcely looked at him, and on his presenting himself at the table in the hall where he was eating, his Holiness said in a rage to Cardinal d'Armagnac, “In the presence of this excommunicated man (questo escommunicato) we are unable to perform any Christian office, not even to say our usual grace to God;” to which the Cardinal having replied, “Holy Father, the greater their sin the more abundant should your Holiness' grace be,” the Pope thereupon said grace, and had the Duke introduced into his chamber, where some cardinals and many other persons were, in whose presence he reproved him so sharply for having come armed against his Holiness and a vicar of Christ, that the poor Duke threw himself upon his knees dumbfounded; and then the Pope calling him alone, near his person, absolved him, and was so appeased that the Duke did not depart utterly dissatisfied.
Rome, 12th December 1556.
Dec. 13. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives, No. 7 B. 759. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
To-day at 3 p.m. Cardinal Caraffa sent me the enclosed autograph note (polizza), to which I replied as you will perceive by the accompanying copy. (fn. 5) At 7 p.m. his Lordship sent me word to send him my secretary, to whom immediately on his arrival he said, “This morning I communicated to the ambassador the Pope's intention to send me to Venice, which I have not yet told the Duke my brother so were it by bad luck to get abroad I should be ruined with the Pope, for as you know one must not depart in the least from the orders of his Holiness, who told me not to mention this thing to any living soul. The Duke of Alva has received the order from his King about the agreement, of which mention is made in the Signory's letters, so it would be bad at present, when they are perhaps preparing to complete the agreement, to let them hear of my going, but at any rate his Holiness will not have words (non vorrà parole), and has determined that the Signory shall hear everything from me, who am well informed about it; but to-morrow at the furthest what is to be done will be decided, and I will let the ambassador know. In the meanwhile I pray him to send another courier express, to come up with the one who departed this morning, to beseech his Sublimity by reason of my consummate reverence for him, and the very great desire I have to do him service, not to allow this mission to be divulged, lest (as I have said) it prove my ruin.”
Rome, 13th December 1556.
Dec. 13. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives. 760. Federico Badoer, Venetian Ambassador at Brussels, to the Doge and Senate.
Yesterday, when with Don Ruy Gomez, he told me that the King had just received several letters from Italy and France, which made him firmly hope that the peace with the Pope would be effected, in which case that result should be principally attributed to your Serenity's strenuous mediation, and especially to the last offices performed with his Holiness, as minutely detailed to his Majesty. The language of Don Ruy Gomez, his eyes, and all his gestures, indicated how much his King was satisfied with your Serenity, and that it greatly pleased himself individually that the peace was about to take place; this being earnestly desired by the rest of the court, as mentioned in several of my letters to your Serenity. In reply to his Lordship, I said that my satisfaction on hearing that the peace was to take place equalled his own, and that it pleased me that his Majesty and his Lordship should have this consolation, which was in truth due to the very prudent mode of proceeding adopted by your Serenity in so important a matter.
Shortly afterwards I heard from the Florentine ambassador that he had received two autograph letters from his master addressed to King Philip, and when on his way to present them they were first of all taken and read by the said Don Ruy Gomez, and in one of them the ambassador told me that the Duke narrated several mistakes made by his Majesty's ministers, which had produced and might give rise to many evil consequences. In the other he said, (swearing by the consecration he received as bishop), (fn. 6) that if his Majesty wishes to preserve his states in Italy, and to have repose in all the others, he recommended him by all possible means to maintain the goodwill of your Serenity, which he would do by negotiating with you sincerely, and that he affirmed this because he knew himself to be speaking with some foundation. He told me besides that at the commencement Don Ruy Gomez answered him with no little anger that the Duke wrote too sharply, through it was very true that the hint given by his Excellency to the King about your Serenity would be acceptable to him. To these words the ambassador made answer that his Lordship ought to put a favourable interpretation on all the things written, because they proceeded from true love borne towards his Majesty's affairs, and the great interest which it seemed to the Duke that he had in common with him.
The merchants at Antwerp have disbursed a part of the money on account of the 150,000 crowns with which the Queen of England has accommodated her consort, and it was immediately taken to these frontiers to pay the Spanish infantry, who were creditors for 12 arrears of stipend (dodeci paghe).
Subsequently the King sent to Antwerp for Messer Silvestro Cattaneo, who is considered the chief among the Genoese merchants, for goodness, prudence, and authority, in the great negotiations for letters of change, (fn. 7) and with kind words requested and compelled him to accept (as he did) the charge of his “factor” at Genoa, with an annual salary of 2,500 crowns, and ample authority to fix the exchanges (di far i cambij) for the affairs of Italy, to which effect the King urged him greatly to depart forthwith postwise; and it is said that his Majesty will send some one to reside in ordinary at each mart, (fn. 8) so as more easily to raise money, and at a lower rate of interest than he has done hitherto.
The Flemings who accompanied the Emperor to Spain are returning (from what they write to their relations), having been dismissed by his Majesty at a village [Jarandilla?] where he had stopped, distant two leagues from the monastery of S. Yuste, he retaining only 14 persons in his service (fn. 9) (tenendo seco quatordici sole persone); and according to the French ambassador his Majesty had been very angry with its friars, because when they came to receive him they said they returned many thanks to the Lord God, for that he had willed to go and end his days with them, the ambassador saying he answered them, that although his mind was entirely inclined towards the service of God, he had nevertheless not determined to stay more than a year or two in that monastery, in order to lead a quiet life, and on account of the salubrity of the climate in that neighbourhood, should he find it such as it had been represented to him, but that according to fresh reports then received he had heard the contrary. (fn. 10)
The Duchess of Parma has sent a gentleman to King Philip to give him notice of her arrival at Worms, and that within ten days she hopes to come accompanied by her son to kiss his hand.
I have been to visit the Duke of Savoy for the performance of such office as seemed fit in return for the loving message he sent me through his ambassador, to the address of your Serenity.
Here the cold is so intense that the poor people die in the streets, and at Antwerp the river is frozen, which has not come to pass for many years.
His Majesty has amused himself lately in the park by seeing several of his gentlemen play various games on the ice, and on the night before last he masked with them at a banquet given by M. de Lalain.
Brussels, 13th December 1556.
Dec. 13. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 761. Giacomo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
On the day before yesterday, by letters from Rome dated the 29th ultimo, the most Christian King received advice that the truce had been prolonged for 40 days, and that as the Pope purposes sending hither a gentleman to give account of the particulars which have occurred, he will also send one to the Catholic King, to negotiate with both their Majesties the means whereby to conclude the peace; and by other advices it also seems that Cardinals-Legates will be sent to these Princes, and that Cardinal Caraffa will come hither. This intelligence has greatly disturbed his most Christian Majesty, who has shown many marks of anger and mental suspense (suspensione di animo), and the more so, as some persons are of opinion that the Pope has in fact made a secret agreement, although he announces his intention of making these demonstrations, to show that he holds his most Christian Majesty in account, and the King for some while has had doubts of Cardinal Caraffa's goodwill. The arrival of this gentleman is anxiously expected in order to hear the details to be communicated by him in his Holiness' name, and in the meanwhile I understand that they are considering what should be determined, whether, as agreed, the Duke de Guise with the army should continue the expedition or be recalled, and the truce continue valid; and although it seems for the King's advantage, as his army is in order, to continue the war, yet nevertheless the wants of the kingdom, most especially of money, should the war be a long one, and the constant opinion of the Constable, that this is neither the fitting nor convenient moment for his Majesty to go to war, are held in great account. The Cardinal of Lorraine, from fear of this resolve, is in suspense, he and all his family, ever since his return from Italy, having favoured the war; it also seeming to him that were his brother the Duke de Guise recalled without attempting some exploit, it would not be quite to his honour (con intiero suo honore).
The Duke de Guise did not reach Lyons until the 7th instant, and having had orders to speed his journey, he was to proceed postwise yesterday, on his way to cross the Alps, as he has informed the King through one of his gentlemen; and the Marshal de Brissac being better will leave Lyons in four days for Grenoble, to make the muster of the troops who are to descend into Italy, should they be ready; if not, his Excellency will cross and the musters will be made beyond the Alps, which inspection would have been performed by the Duke de Guise, had not the occasion arisen for his speedy departure. M. de Termes also is much indisposed, both physically and morally, first from gout, and secondly because a marshalship being vacant through the death of the Duke de Bouillon, he hoped to succeed to it, and had well nigh the sure promise to that effect, but the Duke d'Aumale, the brother of M. de Guise, having stepped in between, asking it for himself, and being also favoured by his mother-in-law Madame de Valentinois, the King has not chosen to make any decision, and will thus for the present leave the post vacant.
The French Commissioners who were on the frontiers of Calais about the disputes respecting them, have returned without any decision.
Poissy, 13th December 1556.
[Italian, partly in cipher; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
Dec. 13. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 762. The Same to the Same.
Concerning the engagement of Francesco Bernardin Vilmercato, whose departure for Piedmont, and the necessity for caution in his mode of quitting the French service, delays his entering that of the Republic, which he is, however, determined to do.
Poissy, 13th December 1556.
[Italian, in cipher throughout, deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
Dec. 14. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives, No. 7 B. 763. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, and Febo Capella, Secretary, to the Doge and Senate.
Cardinal Caraffa sent his secretary, Sachetti, this morning to say he should be glad to speak to us; he said, “I have been some eight hours with the Pope to decide about my going to Venice, as his Holiness will not fail to let the Signory know by word of mouth how much he values the offices performed by them for the peace, and, wishing to do everything with their counsel, to unbosom himself to them; and being unable to do so in person, as he would wish, and not knowing where to find anybody more akin to him or more informed about the matter than I am, he wishes me to go; this short delay proceeding from the Pope's having seen by the summary of the Signory's letters that the King of Spain evinces a wish for the agreement to be made speedily, and that you, ambassador, or some other person should endeavour to put an end to the difficulties and settle them, the Pope saying it would not be well for me to go until by his order I had first spoken with your lordships and had heard what you were commissioned to do about this business, so that on my arrival at Venice his Serenity might not say, 'The ambassador and the secretary who are at Rome are ordered to effect the agreement.'”
I, ambassador, replied that your Serenity desiring nothing but to see Italy, and especially this See Apostolic, in peace and quiet, which would be so universally beneficial, you had performed such offices as seemed necessary to you, both through me, with his Holiness, and his right reverend Lordship, through my colleague accredited to King Philip, and through his ambassador Vargas, who went to him from Venice; you having also done the like with the Duke of Alva, by means of his Excellency's agents, and through this secretary (Febo Capella), who had been four times to the Duke, giving him even to understand that it would very greatly please the Signory, in order to put an end to this most important war, that Paliano should be left at the free disposal of the Pope. Cardinal Caraffa confirmed this, saying that the Pope and they his nephews would never forget so great an obligation, and that his Holiness was so touched (intenerito) by your Serenity's good offices and those of your ministers, that being unable to go to you in person, he had determined to send one who could best represent him, that individual being himself. To this I, ambassador, rejoined that the mission of so honourable and great a personage, most especially at the present moment, was superfluous, we having performed the office abundantly, and assuring him that it would be repeated, adding that the secretary (Capella) and I never failed to perform similar offices, and that if his lordship would indicate anything else for the attainment of this peace, we were ready to execute it according to your Serenity's commission. He replied that he could suggest nothing more, it seeming to him that every duty had been fulfilled (che se habbi adempito tutti li numeri), saying that Cardinal Pacheco had just left him, after showing him a letter from the King of Spain containing the same expressions as those addressed to your Serenity, purporting that his Majesty had sent fresh orders; but as the Duke of Alva did not explain himself, Caraffa told Pacheco that the Imperialists must not think to put him to sleep with these fine words without deeds, as unless he saw something more he could not fail to retain his friends and to make new ones, in order not to let himself be crushed, and that he would urge the march of the French, so that they might be near at hand to aid him on the expiration of the truce, of which 15 days had already elapsed; adding, “Cardinal Pacheco told me that the Duke of Alva wrote to the King that no security had been offered him against the invasion of the kingdom of Naples.” Then he showed us what the Pope wrote, to the effect that he was willing to give them such securities as were fair and usual among Princes, saying, “The Duke would not accept it, nor do we know what other securities we could give them, as if they insist on cities and hostages the Pope would require reciprocity; if they demand Civitavecchia we shall claim Gaeta; if they ask for Ancona, we on the other hand, should want Brindisi and Taranto. If they ask for one of us as hostage, the Pope will choose to have some member of the King's family.”
To this Pacheco replied, “Then what are we to do? it would be well for these Lords (questi signori) to mediate for both sides,” which words we let pass without demanding farther explanation, and Caraffa proceeded, “I inquired whether he said this in the King's name; he replied no, but that this might be negotiated, and I told him that after the proposal is made it will be answered.”
I, ambassador, answered that in like manner as your Sublimity was determined not to allow any opportunity for performing offices in favour of the peace, where necessary, to escape you, so in disputes of such importance it did not seem fit to you to arbitrate (di poner l'arbitrio suo), hoping to be able to do more good by persuading and praying one side and the other to make peace. The Cardinal then continued that these two difficulties alone remaining, the one concerning guarantee, the other about Paliano; with regard to the first, he told Pacheco that they might ask what they pleased, as the Pope on the other hand would do the like; “and if they to chose say that they gave a great guarantee by restoring the Papal territory occupied by them, I told him that yet greater was the Pope's guarantee in confirming to them the kingdoms held in fief from the Church, of which they are deprived for rebellion in war against their Prince, by so much the more as by coming even to the gates of Rome they took off the mask of fear, which they pretended to have of his Holiness, showing that the forces of the See Apostolic do not suffice for self-defence, still less for invasion of the kingdom of Naples. Respecting Paliano, I told him resolutely that the Pope would never consent to its being restored to the Colonna family, having deprived them of it according to justice, and were it said, 'Your possession of it causes us suspicion,' I then ask you, 'If you trust us for the rest, why not rely on us for this likewise?'”
In conclusion Caraffa said, “Cardinal Pacheco remained without knowing what to answer, and I added to him, 'Shall I demonstrate to you clearly the Pope's goodwill, and that he never chose to drive you to despair? Could not his Holiness make a dozen cardinals (una docina de cardinali) opposed to the King of Spain, so that you Spaniards would have gone and shut yourselves up in a corner? This, however, he did not do, because he still wished to see you return to your duty. Well do you know how much such a promotion would matter to the King, for you yourself showed me his letters urging you to pray his Holiness not to make cardinals, because it would confound everything; but I promise you that if the rupture continues the Pope will make more than one, and such ones that you will pull your beards (e tali che vi metterete la mano in la barba); and although these times will pass, and owing to the Pope's old age you perhaps hope that he will not be present hereafter, I tell you his Holiness can always make cardinals, and will do so from necessity, as you see clearly how much we need them.' I then demonstrated to him in what confusion King Philip would be should the war continue, for he has not quiet possession of England, still less of Germany; the King of Bohemia is his enemy; Spain is Catholic, so that he perhaps does not exercise such command there as he could wish, the disturbances there about the affairs of the clergy being already notorious; the Milanese is mortgaged (impegnato); the kingdom of Naples dissatisfied, and wishing nothing more than this war, which, were nothing worse to come of it, would prevent him from availing himself of its revenues, which constitute his real Indies (le sue vere Indie), for the millions of Peru always reduce themselves to nothing, by so much the more as we know that what they have done hitherto was with the money of the Queen of Poland [Queen Dowager Bonna Sforza], which having come to an end, complaints are heard both from the Italians and Spaniards who deserted, because they had neither pay nor food; but should the peace take place King Philip establishes his affairs, if not all of them, assuredly those of Italy, as when the Pope is no longer opposed to him, he has nobody to fear, as the forces of the King of France in Italy are not sufficient to molest him, and the few he has in Tuscany, were the Pope I will not say opposed to him, but neutral, and if he chose to keep the grain for his own territory, would have to surrender, as the fortresses there have no territory of their own to supply them with provisions, nor harbours to give them succour, nor neighbouring friendly towns to furnish what they need; so that in short there ought to be no difficulty on the part of King Philip about the peace, but the cause of the mischief is that the negotiation is not rightly understood. In order to leave nothing untried, I wrote a loving letter to Don Ruy Gomez, who answers me thus” (and he then read to us the letter from Brussels, dated the 20th ult., announcing in substance the King's goodwill towards the peace, and his own with regard to serving Cardinal Caraffa, and that he hoped this his desire would have a good result); the Cardinal adding, “I have chosen to communicate the whole to let you know the truth of what I have always told you, that we never imagine anything without acquainting you with it. After dinner I shall go to the Pope and hear his decision; send the secretary hither, as I will tell him everything, as I have done and always will do.” We thanked him for this confidential communication, and I added that perceiving the disposition of the King of Spain to be good, that of the Duke of Alva not averse to the peace, and above all that the Pope and Caraffa himself and his brothers desired it, we trusted it would take place, and again offered our services to that effect.
Then this evening at 3.40 p.m. Cardinal Caraffa, on coming forth from the Pope's apartment, where he had been with him for three hours, found my secretary, who was waiting for him, and taking him by the hand, having led him into his chamber, he whispered in his ear, “To-morrow morning I shall leave for Venice; there is no occasion to say more, save that you must detain the courier until I send you a letter for the Nuncio, and let the ambassador write to his Serenity that I wish to be received as a son without ceremonies, or a formal entry (nè incontri).
Rome, 14th December 1556.
Dec. 14. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 764. Giovanni Michiel, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
There does not seem to be any further confirmation of the suspicion about the Calais plot; and the death of that Englishman who killed himself, and the flight of the Frenchman who escaped quite safe (it not having been true that he was taken), are attributed to their fear of detection as coiners of base money, it being reported that subsequently in the Englishman's house they found dies and metallic mixtures and tools for that purpose; so whether it be true, or this be reported to conceal the fact, the late rumour about it has ceased entirely. The stay there of the Earl of Pembroke is for the causes written by me, and also because the cold weather continuing, and the marshes round Calais and the neighbouring places on which their safety depends being frozen, were there danger of any invasion, either by treachery or otherwise, the present season would be more opportune than any other, as both infantry and cavalry can go in safety and pass in every direction. On this account, being there with his retinue, the Earl not only strengthens the garrison, but causes the place to be more strictly guarded.
The notice to appear on the day of the Epiphany was not sent to the peers of the realm (alli signori del Regno), but merely to the knights, pensioners, and stipendiaries, to pass them in general review and see whether they have their arms and horses in order, as they are bound.
The last news from Italy about the suspension for 10 (sic) days of hostilities with the Pope, and the going of the cardinals to the Duke of Alva, has fully comforted the Queen, filling her with hope that the adjustment must ensue, and consequently the return of the King; so for the sake of being nearer him she in four days will move to Greenwich, there to pass the Christmas holidays in state (solennemente) as usual. (fn. 11)
The payment of her many debts, which the Queen made and continues making largely, putting into circulation a great quantity of money derived from the last loan, has caused great fear about depreciation of the coinage, so that all debtors are endeavouring to pay their creditors, creating great confusion and rumour both amongst natives and aliens, and considerable variation of exchanges; requiring a remedy, which it is said will be applied at the suit of the lord mayor in the name of the city, by some public demonstration to allay this panic, which might cause some tumult, besides leading to an intolerable scarcity, as it will be impossible to find vendors of anything save at most exorbitant prices, to guarantee themselves against the depreciation of the coinage (del danno della moneda). (fn. 12)
London, 14th December 1556.


  • 1. Georges d'Armagnac, uncle of Henry IV., the future King of France, then in his 4th year.
  • 2. The secretary of the embassy; Capella having been sent on a mission extraordinary.
  • 3. The Duke of Wellington, in a letter to Lord Bathurst describing the battle Waterloo, wrote, “Never did I see such a pounding match.” (Selections from Despatches, &c. of the Duke of Wellington, p. 875. Edition, London, 1842.)
  • 4. The pretensions of Catherine de' Medici were based on the seizure of Urbino Leo X., in favour of her father Lorenzino de' Medici.
  • 5. Neither of these documents are preserved in the Navagero Letter Book, No. 7 B.
  • 6. In the biographical notices of the Grand Duke Cosmo I can find no mention of his having held a bishopric; so the Florentine ambassador was, perhaps, alluding to his own consecration.
  • 7. “Nelle grandi negotiationi di cambij.” In the present instance, these great negotiations chiefly concerned the rates of interest at the marts or fairs of Spain, Italy, and the Low Countries; and in this correspondence the word “cambij” generally signifies loans For the term “letters of change,” see the late Mr. Turnbull's Calendar, Mary, p. 87 Gresham's contract for payment of moneys to the Queen's agents in Spain.
  • 8. “In ogni pazza,” at each town in which the great fairs were held, whether in Spain, Italy, or the Low Countries.
  • 9. “La maison de Charles Quint se composait de cinquante personnes.” (See Migne p. 221.)
  • 10. Compare with Mignet, p. 159.
  • 11. “The xxij day of Desember the Quen's grace [removed] from Sant James thrugh the parke, and toke [her barge] unto Lambyth unto my lord Cardenalle's place [where] her grace dynyd with hym and dyvers of the [council]; and after dener he grace toke her gornay to Grewyehe to kepe her Cryustymus ther.” (See Machyn p. 122.
  • 12. Several words at the close of this letter are illegible, but I think I have given their meaning. In the Domestic Calendar there are no notices about the coinage at the close of 1556; but on the 23rd December in that year, Machyn records a proclamation for bidding “watt man somover they may be that doysse forsake testorns, and do not tak them for vjd a pesse for corne or vetelles, or any odur thynges or ware.”