Venice: December 1556, 16-20

Pages 868-877

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, 16–20

Dec. 16. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 765. Giacomo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Nuncio having been to the King on business, his Majesty again laid before him very adroitly (con assai destre prole) how much he regretted the proceedings on the part of his Holiness, when he the King had moved with so considerable a force for his defence; adding that he had news of his cavalry's having crossed the Alps very prosperously, without having even seen snow, part of the French infantry having also done the like, and that the rest was on its march, it being his belief that by this time the Switzers would have arrived in Piedmont. The Constable addressed him in similar terms, but as the Nuncio has neither letters nor advice of any sort about this prorogation, he knew not what else to reply, save that his Holiness would do nothing that could displease his Majesty; and some importance is attached to the fact that Cardinal Caraffa should not have commissioned the Nuncio in the Pope's name to make any communication to the King about this conclusion; so the suspicion and distrust of his Holiness increases, and the most Christian King considers it certain that the agreement is already as it were made (che l'accordo sia giù come fatto).
Signor Carlo Birago is come in great haste from Piedmont, to give account of the preparations which are being made against the Milanese, and to obtain money for the veteran infantry in Piedmont, to whom nine arrears of pay (nove paghe) are due, and from despair they desert their posts; but the chief cause of his coming is to give advice of some understanding, he, with his brother Ludovico, being a very fitting instrument for these schemes, and when here a month ago he told me that the designs were not dormant; so whether on this account, or because it is more for his most Christian Majesty's dignity that his forces should not slacken their progress, it is said constantly that the entire army will continue its march as originally ordered; the King by having an army in Piedmont taking advantage of it, either for the war, or for the renewal of such agreement as might be negotiated. The Duke of Ferrara has given his Majesty notice of the Pope's proceedings, inquiring what the King's will was in case the agreement should be stipulated; and they are sending back M. de Forcavoe (sic) to let the Duke know that the King's army will by all means descend into Piedmont.
According to fresh advices, it seems that the Duke de Guise has changed his purpose of going postwise, and will take the road by Grenoble, making long days journeys (a bone giornate); and according to news received by me from some of my friends at Lyons, pecuniary supply had been made there for his Majesty, down to the 8th instant, to the amount of 300,000 crowns, paying interest at the rate of 16 per cent., in addition to the 900,000 about which I wrote heretofore, and they still continue raising other loans.
Poissy, 16th December 1556.
[Italian, partly in cipher; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
Dec. 17. Venetian Archives, No. 7 B. p. 98, tergo. 766. Bernardo Navagero, Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
Through the opportunity afforded me by the Magnifico Messer Lunardo, who departs to-day for Venice postwise, I inform your Serenity that according to his intention Cardinal Caraffa, on the morning after I wrote my last, left Rome for Venice with 50 posters in four sets (in quattro mude). Great things are said, but as they come from persons who do not know the particulars they vary; some say that he will go from Venice to the King of Spain to make the agreement; others that he will urge your Serenity to declare war; but all are agreed in believing that you will do him all possible honour, both by reason of his importance and authority, as also on account of the Pope's nature, which attaches great importance to these ceremonies (per la natura del Ponte che sta assai in queste cerimonie). Yesterday in consistory the Pope alluded to this departure of the Cardinal.
Rome, 17th December 1556.
Dec. 18. Venetian Archives, No. 7 B. p. 99. 767. Bernardo Navagero, Ambassador in Rome, and Febo Capella, Secretary, to the Doge and Senate.
To-day at audience I returned thanks to the Pope for the honourable testimony rendered by him to you in consistory, to which he replied, that he chose the affection borne by him to the Republic to be known to everybody, the world being thus assured that so long as it shall please God to keep him alive, he would never fail doing all that he can for your Serenity's benefit, as besides his personal goodwill, there moreover intervened a very close and most important state friendship, as in this afflicted Italy there was nothing good but the See Apostolic and the most illustrious Signory (non essendo in questa afflitta Italia altro di bene, che la sede apostolica, et quella Sigria Illma); it being necessary for the two to have a good understanding together, and to be united for their preservation, the Lord God having founded and maintained the Venetian Republic, that it may uphold the honour of this miserable province, now alas but too much ruled and mangled (stracciata) by brutes (bestie); coming to the conclusion that all the other friendships were nothing as compared with this one, which is natural and advantageous for one and the other, and they may be said to be not of one and the same nation, but of one and the same country.
In accordance with your Serenity's orders received yesterday, I ambassador then said, that the reverence entertained by the Signory for the See Apostolic, and especially for his Holiness, caused you to wish him the greatest possible blessing, which is peace and quiet, and therefore with great pleasure had you seen the prorogation of the truce for the 40 days, from which you hoped would ensue that peace which you had so much desired and sought for, as you had again written to the King of Spain, and to your ambassador with him, exhorting his Majesty to a reconciliation with the See Apostolic, which business having been apparently referred to that court, and the Duke of Alva returning to Naples, you charged the Secretary, after humbly kissing his Holiness' foot, to return to Venice.
The Pope replied, “So many have been the offices performed for us by the Signory, and we hold them so dear, that to thank the State for them, and also (having heard from the Court of Spain that he [King Philip] offered to refer the whole to his Serenity [the Doge], and when pressing the business (et nel stringer la cosa), it being impossible to verify it here, as these persons to whom the King wrote are not acquainted with it; you, Lord Ambassador, also having answered our Cardinal as he told us, that you had no such commission) to enlighten ourselves about it, we determined to send the Cardinal our son (nostro figliolo) to Venice, being unable to go in person as would have been our wish; and had there been anybody dearer to us than he is, or who could have represented us more nearly, we would have sent him. We have employed the best we have (habbiamo messo man a quel più che habbiamo potuto); we have not sent a legate a latere, but our offspring (le viscere nostre) and our identical person; saying to him, 'Go, Monsignor (as the Signory has accepted you and the whole family for their sons and servants), to see your country, to visit the Sublimity of the Prince and those most excellent Lords in our name, and to offer them yourself and your brothers as their servants, assuring them that we shall leave to you as chief legacy our affection for the Republic; and you will learn whether the King of Spain has made this reference (remissione) to their lordships, because should this be true, although we know that to refer our disputes to anyone would compromise our dignity, yet nevertheless by reason of our especial affection for that Dominion, we would consent to justify our actions to the Signory.' This good son accepted the charge willingly, and with so much joy that no words could exaggerate it, and we assuredly should have wished to send him at a moment when he could have remained longer there for the satisfaction of those Lords and for his own, but the few remaining days of the truce will compel him to return speedily; and we told him besides to endeavour to obtain a writing from his Sublimity expressing his pleasure and wishes, so that we may gratify him, as is our extreme desire, as so often explained by us to you.”
The Pope continued, “We are awaiting what the Almighty shall be pleased to do, and although we know that it would be our duty to finish the trials (processi) and pass sentence on those Imperialists (contro costoro) as their iniquity and impiety have deserved, driving them not merely out of Italy but out of the world, yet do we bear with patience (as we moreover have done hitherto) so many assassinations, plots, poisonings, occupation of part of the papal territory, and other heinous actions perpetrated by them, without choosing to proceed farther, being ready to pardon what they have done, although somewhat to the charge of our conscience, in order to give this satisfaction to the world and to the Signory in particular, wishing them to know that we do not fail to make the agreement, for which purpose we twice sent our Cardinal to the Duke of Alva; but we are certain that the Imperialists, whilst talking of peace, will wage war upon us. We choose to believe that the injury they have done us was as penance for our sins, because the Lord punishes his children; quis enim filius quem non corripit pater? Castigans castigavit me Dominus, sed non morti tradidit. (fn. 1) The Lord God will not allow us to perish; and if He delayed assisting us, it was perhaps to make the benefit appear greater, and that we might value it the more.
“An already said by us, we shall wait to see what they may do, and peace will ensue provided they do not fail in their duty, and should they act otherwise we will move heaven and earth, and turn all the elements topsy-turvy (et volteremo sotto sopra tutti li elementi), to avenge the injury done to God. We will make a crusade against them, and those who shall be of a contrary opinion will not be considered by us good Christians, neither shall we hold those who are not with us to be sons of the Church, be they who they may. We tell you so plainly, and do you, secretary, let it be known to those lords, together with the other particulars about our will (volontà), and the iniquity of those Imperialists, as so often narrated by us to you.
“The Imperialists here (as written also by Philip to the Signory) say that he has sent fresh orders. This Duke [of Alva], if unable to come himself, or not choosing to do so, ought to have sent some one in authority to let us know what his instructions are; but they can bode no good, and bear in mind what we tell you, that they have seized this part of our territory in order to retain and not to restore it, hoping to find us always alone, and by degrees to make themselves masters of the whole of it; but the Lord God will not abandon us; His Majesty abandons those who are dear to Him until a certain point, and then makes himself felt in their defence, wherefore the Psalmist, who was so well versed in theology, sang the divine mysteries thus, 'Non derelinquas me, Domine, usquequaque,' knowing that to be abandoned ad tempus is the cause of making our imperfection known to us. The Lord will not forget us, and these heretics and Moriscos, His enemies, will perceive it; the which heretics, and I invoke the testimony of God and of all the saints, have not kept faith, and never will keep it; wherefore, secretary, tell those lords not to believe them, whatever they may say, and think not that we speak thus from anger and passion, as you would assuredly deceive yourself; we say it from experience, and from prudence acquired by constant intercourse with them. Our determination is that we will wait and see what it shall please the Almighty to do, with the firm hope that He will assist us. You, secretary, will go on your way prosperously. Recommend us to the most Serene Signory; salute the sublimity of the Doge and all those Lords in our name; assure them of our very great wish for their greatness and glory, and that the Lord God may grant that this new year may prove to them the most auspicious of any since the Republic's foundation down to the present day.”
I, secretary, replied that I would not fail to execute his Holiness' commission, and that I was certain that, although before now your Serenity was aware of his Beatitude's paternal love for you, and was therefore under the greatest possible obligations to him, yet would it please you to hear of it from me likewise. Thereupon I, ambassador, knowing that the Duke of Paliano, Marshal Strozzi, and Camillo Orsini were waiting for audience, told the secretary to kiss his Holiness' foot, and after performance of that ceremony the Pope, on his rising, embraced and kissed him very graciously, saying that he was one of his dear sons, that they were about to hear him at Venice, and that he loved him for the memory of his ancestors. The Pope then gave him his benediction, and we took leave. Our audience having lasted until 7 p.m., I, ambassador, being troubled with a violent cold (discesa di catharro) (having almost completely lost my voice, for which nothing is worse than the night air), was unable to go to the Duke of Paliano, but I, secretary, went and acquainted him with the fresh offices performed by your Serenity by letter with the King of Spain in favour of the peace, adding that I had received leave to return to Venice in consequence of the Duke of Alva's departure for Naples, and because the negotiation for the peace had been transferred to the court of the King of Spain.
The Duke replied, “For the love of God let this agreement be made speedily, for I see the world going upside down. The Duke de Guise writes from Lyons on the 6th, that he had arrived there on that day, and that the men-at-arms were already in Piedmont, the infantry also arriving by degrees, and that he himself should be there in a few days, and in marching order by the 20th; the necessary consequence of which would be that King Philip will send Germans across the Alps, Italy being thus filled with barbarians. Then comes the jealousy between the Duke of Ferrara and the Duke of Parma, which will not allow us to remain quiet, and this very day the Duke of Ferrara had the Pope's leave asked to raise 6,000 infantry. It is unnecessary to speak of the Duke of Florence, his territory being in greater jeopardy than that of anyone else; and although the Pope has given him every satisfaction, he doing the like by his Holiness, he nevertheless cannot stop and look on, for every one will have to take a part. The Pope would wish for peace in fact, but the Imperialists solely in words, because they have an especial hatred against his Holiness and us his nephews, assuredly without reason with regard to us, as we brothers have always served him without the slightest reward, as what little territory we have is ours by inheritance, acquired through the blood of the King of Aragon; but if they will it thus we can do nothing more, the fault is theirs. That we wish for peace will, I believe, be credited as certain by everybody, without many words, for war can only bring destruction upon us, since by means of it we cannot hope to obtain possession of our country, as Duke Alessandro de' Medici did of Florence in the time of Pope Clement, as it would be folly for us to think of making ourselves kings of Naples; but through peace we might at least hope to establish our family by employing the money now reserved for war in the purchase of landed property for our maintenance. I shall serve the Pope during his lifetime, and then pass the rest of my days in Venice; so assure his Serenity of my readiness to serve him.”
I then took leave, and went to the Marquis of Montebello, who, when he heard that I was returning to your Sublimity, urged me to recommend him to you. He evinced great sorrow for this war, saying that the sudden departure of his brother the Cardinal for Venice had caused him great suspicion, but that he was subsequently comforted, his Lordship having told him he was going to promote the negotiation for the agreement. He greatly commended the very sage proceeding of your Serenity in all your affairs, especially for your remaining at peace.
I leave for Venice to-morrow.
Rome, 18th December 1556.
Dec. 19. Venetian Archives, No. 7 B. p. 101, tergo. 768. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
At 6 a.m., on Tuesday, Cardinal Caraffa departed with 50 posters in four sets (in 4 mude) to secure relays, and amongst his attendants are several prelates, the Archbishop of Cosenza, the Bishops of Pola, Vercelli, and Vitellozzo, besides many honourable gentlemen, which makes me believe that although he said he did not wish to be met by deputations (incontri), but to be received like a son, it would nevertheless please him to be honoured in such form as observed by your Serenity in similar cases. This fact is well known, that there never was a Pope who delighted more in ceremonies and honour, rendered to himself and his kinsfolk, than the present one. On Wednesday there was consistory, and the Pope said that he had summoned it to give account of the going to Venice of Cardinal Caraffa, his Holiness praising your Serenity in such form as he knows how to do when it pleases him; he commended the offices performed by you with King Philip, as also here with the Duke of Alva, in favour of peace; saying that personally, and as Pope, he felt himself obliged to you, and that the Sacred College ought to be of the same mind. He gave account of the letters written by the King of Spain to your Serenity, of his wish for the agreement, adding that he had been advised from that Court that the King would refer the disputes to you, but that when seeking for the truth of this he did not find any ground for it; and that when Cardinal Caraffa made inquiry of me on the subject, I replied that this arbitration had not been announced to me; so his Holiness, to enlighten himself about this, and also to have thanks returned to your Serenity for so many offices performed by you, had sent the Cardinal his nephew. He then added that he should not make Cardinals at Christmas, as was perhaps expected, although that order had great need for it; and he ended by conferring the archbishopric of Milan on the Reverend Archinto, with many conditions to which it was thought his Holiness ought not to have assented, the interpretation being that he did so to oblige the Cardinal of Ferrara and the Duke his brother.
I am moreover told by a cardinal that the mission of Cardinal Caraffa is the more important in proportion to the futility of the causes which the Pope assigns for it, as to thank you, a letter would have sufficed, without despatching the chief person about him, and the one he loves best, who is charged to direct everything, so that this circumstance gives rise to various opinions about war and peace, but the majority have more fear of the former than hope of the latter. On the day of Cardinal Caraffa's departure no one was allowed to pass the gates of Rome, to delay the advices of his journey for a day, but on the morrow couriers were sent to all the courts. The Imperial Cardinals, most especially San Giacomo and Pacheco, still hope for peace, but Cardinal Sta. Fiora [Guido Ascanio Sforza] told a person in his confidence, that the Count his brother [Carlo Sforza] arrived at Naples last Saturday, on board a “fregata,” and having been much urged by the Duke of Alva to go with all haste, he narrowly escaped drowning. The Duke entered Naples on the preceding day, and is supposed to have sent for him to make arrangements in case the war continue.
Cardinal Sermoneta has told my secretary that the Pope in fact wished for war, and that he desired Mons. de Morette, who left for France some days ago, to let the most Christian King know that he was not to take any heed for the truce (che non mettesse in alcuna consideratione le tregue); that he the Pope was determined not to make any sort of agreement (che era risoluto di non voler alcuna sorte d'accordo), and that he was to urge the Duke de Guise to advance in double quick time; to which effect, Mons. de Morette has also sent the said Duke two couriers. The Cardinal added that the design is to invade the kingdom of Naples by way to the Abruzzi. and therefore they have had a report made of the amount of grain in the March of Ancona, and find there 25 thousand “salme” of wheat more than the province requires, so they have given orders for it to be saved together with that of the Romagna, and to provide carts and beasts of burden to draw them whither required. He also says that the fort raised by the Imperialists on the island at the mouth of the stream (fiumicino) is of little consequence, because in the direction of Porto, where the site favours them, these lords are building another higher than theirs, which will batter everything, as will appear by the accompanying plan, together with many other particulars, carefully drawn up by an experienced person who has been on the spot. What they fear here, with regard to the total loss of the convenience derived from the river, is, that the Spaniards might sink three or four boat-loads of stones in that channel, which would close it completely.
Cardinal Sermoneta also said. that matters remaining in their present state, his Holiness on the return of Cardinal Caraffa will make a dozen cardinals (farà una docina de Cardli al ritorno dell' Illmo Caraffa) to consolidate the affairs of his family, the individuals having been already designated, but as the Cardinal did not name them, my secretary did not ask who they were. In conclusion, his Right Reverend Lordship discussed the interests of Cardinal Farnese and Duke Ottavio, saying that it will now be seen how rashly they decided, as on the passage of the Duke de Guise, whether they concede or refuse it, they would declare themselves either against the Pope or against King Philip; if against the Pope, they will not fare well, because their fief lapses (perchè cascano da feudo); if against the King of Spain, the son [Alessandro Farnese, Prince of Parma] and the wife [Margaret of Austria], who are in his Majesty's power, will fare badly.
Moreover this morning, Signor Flaminio di Stabio, the brother-in-law of Marshal Strozzi, told my secretary that the advices from the Duke de Guise are not in the form published by the French ministers here; that he saw the Duke's letter addressed to the ambassador of the most Christian King, dated Lyons the 8th, in which he (Guise) says that he shall remain in that city for another six days; that much to his satisfaction he had heard of the prorogation of the truce for 40 days, as it would give him time to adjust his affairs better; and that in the meanwhile he would place the cavalry in garrison, and that by the 20th he expected to be with Marshal de Brissac to take the field (per useir in campagna), without specifying whether he will commence (romperà) in that direction (in quella parte) [Piedmont?], or attempt the passage at once, in order to come hither. As this announcement implied a long delay, the French ambassador did not wish to import it to the Pope as it stands, but merely to say that the Duke de Guise is coming, and would be in marching order by the 20th; Marshal Strozzi said that this would be to deceive the Pope, and to discredit the King and the Duke de Guise, and that he deemed it necessary to represent the business to his Holiness as it in fact stood, and thus did they tell it him yesterday. Signor Flaminio also said that Cardinal Caraffa, in the act of departure, requested Marshal Strozzi to let the Pope know that by no means can the French be in time, which he says is the only way whereby to make his Holiness condescend to the agreement; and that the most illustrious Caraffa went joyfully to Venice, because he hopes that after complying with the Pope's wish, and having convinced him that France cannot, and that Venice will not, he will give ear to the peace.
This gentleman said besides, that yesterday morning when these lords (questi signori) were sitting in consultation, the Ferrarese ambassador announced (propose) that his Duke had the courage to raise 6,000 infantry, and that he would ask the Pope's leave to do so. On the ambassador's departure Marshal Strozzi opposed the measure, as these troops would be of no use, the amount being too great to guard the Dukes territory, and unnecessary to reinforce the Duke de Guise, because, should he cross speedily, he will meet with no opposition, and if he delays until the Imperialists are in order something more than 6,000 infantry will be required. This opinion was accepted, and thus did they persuade the Pope to answer him, his Holiness having written accordingly last evening.
Rome, 19th December 1556.
Dec. 20. Venetian Archives, No. 7 B. p. 103. 769. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
This morning the Pope repeated what he had said in consistory about his reasons for sending Cardinal Caraffa to Venice, and praised his Lordship as sage, well-minded, and most useful to the See Apostolic, so he had destined him as Legate all over Italy, et ad quoscumque Principes in Italià ei declinare contigerit. and having taken the votes of the Cardinals they confirmed the appointment, with the full powers conceded to Legates de latere. Cardinal Cornaro acquainted me with this immediately, and the Pope said, “To honour the Signory we have made our Cardinal, Legate, to the general satisfaction and applause of these right reverends, who are all Venetians.” For this I returned thanks to his Holiness, and as some persons said that he would also be Legate extra Italiam. which seemed to me a thing of great importance, I sent to ask the Reverend Berengo, who has to draw up the brief, and he replied that he was Legate with every sort of power whithersoever he went; but certain Cardinals having told me that the Pope rejected a suggestion made for appointing him etiam extra Italiam. I sent my secretary to the Cardinals Carpi and Sermoneta to ascertain the fact, and they replied that Cardinal Cararffa is made Legate in Italy to every prince in Italy, and to each place (loco) in Italy to which he may have occasion to go; and Cardinal Saraceno when giving his vote having said that it would be well to appoint him Legate beyond Italy likewise, the Pope rejoined that nothing farther was requisite at present, there not being sufficient hope of universal peace for him to form such a resolve, and that should it please God to render the hope possible, he would provide for sending one or more of their right reverend lordships (ano ct più di S.S. Revmc). Cardinal Sermoneta also said to my secretary that the Imperialists are very dissatisfied about this legation, as they fancy they perceive the appointment of a Legate to the French army; and Cardinal Carpi said that to-day a thing has been done such as was never perhaps previously heard of in secret consistory, for of this legation they then called in witnesses, who were the reverend “Datario” and the Procurator Fiscal (sono stà rogati testimonij, qual furono il reverendo Datario et il Fiscal).”
I announce by express this important and unexpected decision, which astounds everybody here.
Rome, 20th December 1556.


  • 1. “In disciplina perseverate. Tamquam filiis vobis offert se Deus: quis enim filius quem non corripit pater?” Epistola Sancti Pauli, cap. xii. verso 7. “Castigans castigavit me Dominus; et morti non tradidit me.” Salmo cxvii. verso 18. (Biblia Sacra, Venetiis, 1760, Tip. Baglioni.)