Venice: February 1557, 1-15

Pages 937-955

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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February 1557, 1–15

Feb. 1. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 808. Giacomo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Duke de Guise is to direct the army without any order from hence; and it is the intention of his most Christian Majesty, should the King of England send any considerable body of troops into Italy, likewise to add to his forces there; making a fresh levy of infantry, and raising also a certain amount of German cavalry, of which he can easily get as many as he pleases; and he has already obtained passage from the Switzers, it being also told me that when needed he will ask it of your Serenity. With regard to this matter I have been told that the most Christian King thinks for certain (pensa di certo) that your Serenity will at any rate renounce your neutrality, for several reasons, but chiefly because, having to give passage to so many Ultramontane troops in favour of both these Kings, you will no longer think it for your service to stand alone and leave the door open for all comers.
His Majesty has received autograph letters from the King of Bohemia, informing him that not only is his Highness firm in the purpose (proposito) communicated heretofore to the King of France by M. de Sipierre, but that he had also held an earnest conversation on the subject with his father, exhorting him to form a friendship with King Henry, and through his medium to effect an adjustment with Sulfan Soliman; the King of the Romans in return pledging himself not to allow German troops to pass into Italy to assist the King of England; but that the King of Bohemia had been unable to induce his father to consent to this. He also informed the King that a person had come to him in his Majesty's name making large promises, but being without credentials no farther reply was given him. Then four days ago, a gentleman in the garb of a courier arrived at the Court, and after speaking with his Majesty in the name of the King of the Romans, was despatched immediately on his way back; but the person who gave me this information does not know what he brought, by reason of the great secrecy with which this negotiation is conducted, though my informant added that the person alluded to by the King of Bohemia as having presented himself without credentials, is an individual well known here, but who went of his own accord to discover the mind of those Kings [Ferdinand and Maximilian] and then intermeddle with the affair, hoping to derive honour and profit from it.
His most Christian Majesty has lately been in some doubt lest the Queen of England declare herself openly in favour of the King her husband, who by every sort of office has urged her to do so, and she has already given it to be understood that such was her determination; but yesterday by a courier from England, his Majesty is almost assured that nothing farther will be done, the Queen not having found amongst her councillors the same opinion as her own, they laying before her the little trust that can be placed in her subjects.
The Nuncio announced to the King yesterday the recovery of Hostia, and the Ferrarese ambassador told him of the stir made by his Duke to take the Castle of San Martino.
The Constable has sent the permission to Rome for his son M. de Montmorency to return hither to the Court, he being quite content to revoke the promise given by him heretofore to her (a quella) who was to have been his wife, and the Pope, according to report, having given the dispensation. Immediately on his return he will marry the bastard daughter of the King, who gives 40,000 francs to the young woman deserted by Montmorency, and they will marry her also.
On the day after to-morrow the King and the whole Court will depart for Paris, the Dauphin being rid of his quartan fever.
Poissi, 1st February 1557.
P.S.—The Court has received news of the passage of the Duke de Guise, and that Valence and the Castle, and Basignan likewise, have been taken by Marshal de Brissac.
[Italian, partly in cipher; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
Feb. 5. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives, 809. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
Having gone to the Pope this day at 3 p.m., I found in the antechamber the French ambassador, who told me he had been there for three hours, and that the Pope had seen him and told him to wait a little, as he wished to say vespers and complin, but when the office ended he went to sleep (si era posto a dormir). Whilst we were discussing divers common and general topics, the Florentine ambassador, and the treasurer (camerario), who had been sent for by the Pope, came in. The Florentine evinced great resentment to me about this war, saying that the Duke of Alva ought either not to have advanced so far, or advancing, he should have attempted what he would easily have succeeded in doing; inquiring of me whether, as reported at this Court, your Serenity was arming 40 galleys. I answered him that I did not know, and that in my last advices nothing was said on the subject; though possibly, as usual on the approach of spring, some galleys were being armed.
From the Treasurer I heard that the expedition of the kingdom of Naples would succeed casily, and that to retain the conquest would be difficult without the assistance of your Serenity, who was well nigh adored (poco appresso che adorata) on the Neapolitan coast, and ought not to lose this opportunity, as he knew that you had been offered Sicily and that the offer would be repeated; that kingdom being so important and productive, and convenient for the Republic. I answered that your Serenity was of so temperate a mind that the hope of having greater state did not easily move you, and that you regretted seeing the commencement of a war so very prejudicial to Italy. To which he said, “Those Lords are in truth sage, for the vicinity of a King of France who is so powerful ought to cause them suspicion, as I remember having said to the King himself.”
He then spoke to me about the causes which induced the Duke of Paliano and Marshal Strozzi to go out of Rome; and concerning the provision made by the Duke of Florence both in that city and at Scarperia, between Florence and Bologna; alluding also to the departure of M. de Lansac for France, as likewise to the cause of the demand made by the French, and to the marriage of M. de Montmorency.
At 6 p.m. the Pope awoke and sent for the French ambassador, with whom he remained for two hours, and then had me introduced, apologizing very graciously if he had put me to inconvenience by waiting, inquiring of me whether I had quite recovered; and on my answering him truly that my foot still pained me, and he seeing that I walked lame, he sat down and having had a stool brought told me to be seated. I replied that I received daily many favours from his Serenity, and that this was too much, and that I would never do so, as it did not become me. The Pope said, “Sit down, as to remain standing would hurt you, and we should regret it,” and I refusing he commanded me to do so; wherefore I replied that by obeying him I should demonstrate the extreme reverence and devotion I bore him, more than by obstinately standing. Being thus seated, I told him I was commissioned by your Serenity and the Senate to congratulate him on the recovery of Hostia, Castel Gandolfo, and other places, and on the capture of the Imperial fort, your Sublimity feeling very great contentment at all his successes; thanking him also for the confidential conversations he had so often held with me, wishing him joy in conclusion on the delivery of the Lady Duchess, praying that it might prove to the felicity and grandeur of his most illustrious house.
With a most cheerful countenance the Pope replied, “That love which as we have so often told you we bear towards the Signory, both from our natural inclination as also by reason of personal obligations, and according to the will of God, who makes us wish the State all welfare and happiness; so with this same love do we accept the courteous office as an office that proceeds from the heart,” To this I said immediately that his Holiness did not at all deceive himself in believing that your Serenity's offices came from the bottom of your heart, owing to the very great reverence and devotion you bear him; and he added, “You will thank those most illustrious Lords for this their love, and you will assure them that we should have wished these schismatics either not to have committed the impiety that they have done, or that at least they had subsequently repented, showing us true contrition and amendment, to experience the mercy rather than the justice of God; and that they had not been so daring as to abuse the infinite patience of His Divine Majesty, which we (quantum in nobis fait) have sought to imitate, as you can very well testify that we have never given them any cause either by deed or word to perpetrate the iniquity committed by them, save what was said privately for their correction; but if we abstained from the public acts which would perhaps have been performed (as at any rate they have forfeited all favours received at any time whatever from the See Apostolic, and they are excommunicated, accursed, and the enemies of God), they by devastating well nigh all the State of the Church, and coming even to these walls (which we scarcely defended), have justified our cause, nor has it been of any use to them sending their agents to the Signory and to the other Princes of Italy to palliate their impiety, because facts have made manifest their iniquitous will (il loro iniquissimo animo), and that they have not done the mischief they were unable to do, and will not do what is out of their power.
“But the Lord God will not abandon us, and He has now commenced, for he has not willed it to be believed, 'quod dixit insipiens in corde suo, non est Deus;' He will show that there is, and that in His Majesty justice and mercy go hand in hand (et che sono nella Maestà sua eguali la giustitia et la miscricordia); and He will act in such wise that as we were unable to rejoice with the Signory at the amendment of those people (di costoro), we shall rejoice at the glory of God. And as we can conceal nothing whatever from you, Magnifico Ambassador, we will confess to you our delicate feeling (la nostra sensualità), as our perhaps too great patience, which caused even the Spaniards themselves to murmur, (for we remember having told you that at the commencement of the war some of them quitted the Duke of Alva's service in order not to come against the Church, as in every place God may have some of His children), has also been the cause that we have such moderate forces, nor did we choose to bark without being able to bite, (fn. 1) as pen and paper were worth little without the sword and armies, and we now hope in God to use both one and the other, although the Spaniards (essi) boast that they shall have horse and foot in very great number from Germany; but we also have advices about the state of affairs there, although they go circulating (se ben vanno seminando) that you have granted them passage and victuals. We hold those Lords to be sage, and believe that they would not wish to have more barbarians, as there are but too many of them, and that if the Signory have not aided the cause of God as they ought, they will not be opposed to it.”
To which I said, “Holy Father, I think I can assure your Holiness both from the past actions of our ancestors, and from the present will of those most excellent Lords (as I remember to have told your Holiness heretofore, by commission from the State) that his Sublimity will never be opposed to this Holy See; but as to giving passage to the Germans or to others, I know not what has been asked nor what has been answered; but this I do know, that the Signory's cities and places are so situated that those who choose to come have so many roads whereby to pass, that they cannot be prevented, and therefore very often that which cannot be sold is given.”
The Pope replied, “Enough; should you be against the religion and against the See Apostolic, we shall be sorry for it, yet will we not fail, on this account, to trust in God, and in His holy hand, for we have the just cause against most iniquitous enemies, who almost from the commencement of their rule introduced the heresy, whereas previously they were all of one faith and of one dogma; they then ruined every part of the world by their detestable tyranny—ultus est etiam ille natale solum—(Rome or Naples?); you know the affair of Ghent; to pass over that of Rome, now some 30 years ago, and we were present—quaœque ipse miserrima vidi. They did worse to this wretched city than the Goths and other devils (che li Gotti et altri diavoli), wherefore they deserve to have the whole world move against them. At least that other generation.” (by which I understood him to mean the French,) “if it ran over Italy with such fury as usual to it at first, yet did they afterwards go back etiam nobis tacentibus, and these provinces have been their burying place; but these demons (questi demonj) when they grapple never let go (dove se aggrappano non si staccano mai) unless their knuckles are very well rapped (se non se li da molto ben sulle mani). See how pertinaciously they hold the places of the Church occupied by them, and how we are compelled to go expelling them by force, but we hope in God that they will be forced to leave the whole, and also a great part of their own.”
Seeing that the hour was very late, and availing myself of the opportunity of his Holiness having stopped, I said that I would no longer inconvenience him, though I could not indeed omit giving him the opportunity to perform an act of piety; and then having presented your Serenity's letter of the 23rd ultimo, I told him that he very well knew the goodness and piety of the Reverend nuns of Sta. Lucia of Venice, as last year likewise he had sent them alms, and that their livelihood depended on certain small revenues they have in the Romagna, which they cannot export owing to his Holiness' new prohibition; so you besought him to be pleased, to the praise of God, to perform this act of piety in favour of that poor monastery, by conceding them an export-permit for these scanty revenues.
He replied that the cause of the prohibition to export grain, as also the command given to the lords and barons his feudatories to provide as much grain as they could, was to be able to support the French army which is coming for his defence; and that from the good opinion he has of those nuns, but yet more from his wish to oblige your Serenity in everything, he regretted being unable to let me then depart comforted by the grant of this demand, but that he would nevertheless speak with the Commissary General to see if it was possible to gratify you by overcoming every difficulty.
I said that for this I kissed his foot, and wishing to take leave his Holiness added, “Some days ago we sent to you, by the President of the Treasury, a draft of a decree made by us in public Segnatura, in a certain suit between one Randonio and an individual named Ziliolo, that you might transmit it to those lords for execution. We believe that you sent it, and not seeing any resolution whatever, we know not what to say, save that we pray you to write again, so that, we having passed that sentence with all maturity, they be pleased to have it executed, allowing the case to come hither (lassando venir la causa de qui) to be judged by the Rota, because to do otherwise would be contrary to duty and cause us to resent it;” and the Pope having repeated to me that I was to perform this office, warmly desiring my secretary to remind me of it, I took leave.
Rome, 5th February 1557.
Feb. 6. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 810. Giacomo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Duke of Florence sent word lately to Cardinal Tournon that he wished to contract a friendship with his most Christian Majesty, and to prove to him by facts how well inclined he is towards his service, and as the Cardinal mediated between them on the last occasion, he now requested him to act in like manner. Tournon assured him of the King's goodwill, but said he did not think that at present the negotiation would succeed, until the Duke insisting, the Cardinal induced him to say that he will declare himself the ally of his Majesty and of the league, and will do for their benefit what may be stipulated, the King giving his eldest daughter in marriage to the eldest son of the Duke, who will send him to this Court, and the King on the other hand sending his daughter to Florence, there to remain until the time of its consummation. In accordance with this project the Duke has removed the Spaniards from his fortresses, that his liberty of action may be the more free. This negotiation of Cardinal Tournon arrived here three days ago, but the King has not yet given any reply, though the persons of the Court who have heard of it infer, considering how important it is for his Majesty to have the Duke with him, that he will agree to what is aforesaid, and send his reply in three or four days. A gentleman arrived here lately, in the name of the Florentine outlaws, to offer his Majesty a considerable sum of money if he would undertake the expedition for the release of Florence, but having heard something about this negotiation with the Duke, he hesitated, and at his audience of the King, instead of offering him in detail what he was commissioned to do, he told him that he had come hither to make his Majesty an offer as aforesaid, but having heard how some treaty for agreement was on foot between him and the Duke of Florence, he did not think fit to come to any particulars, but merely to let his Majesty know that it was the wish of the said outlaws to offer him for his good pleasure whatever was in their power. The King, without either admitting or denying the negotiation, answered him that he would never do anything to disquiet them, because, having always known them to be much attached to him, he could not fail to reciprocate, whenever the opportunity offered, by every demonstration for their welfare and security. The said Cardinal Tournon is also treating to take the Duke of Urbino into his most Christian Majesty's service.
The Archbishop of Vienne (sic—Vannes?) (fn. 2) has been sent by the King to be present at the conference at Ferrara, and will then proceed to Rome, the Pope having requested the King to send him some personage of quality and of business, and he is especially commissioned to entreat his Holiness to make a promotion of cardinals during these next Ember days, and the first persons to be named are the Bishop of St. Pajiol (sic), brother of the late Cardinal Salâe . . ., and the Archbishop Orsini, brother of the Signor Giordano.
The Court rejoices at the good understanding again stipulated by the King with the Elector the Count Palatine, who, although he has not promised to declare himself openly, has at least assured him that in his jurisdiction he will not allow the King of England to raise any troops. A friend of mine was told by his most Christian Majesty in person that he hoped for certain that the Queen of England would not declare herself in favour of the King her husband, and that Cardinal Pole had been the principal instrument to give her this counsel, notwithstanding which there seems to me to be a general suspicion that the Queen will afford her consort some pecuniary assistance.
The Spanish ambassador has been dismissed, and departed two days ago in custody of M. de St. Sulpice, who will accompany him as far as St. Quentin, where he will remain in confinement (sequestrato) until exchanged for the French ambassador.
The coming hither from Rome of the Constable's son has by fresh orders been somewhat delayed, it seeming fit for him not to return until after the marriage of the young woman who was to have been his wife. Giulio Orsini will depart to-morrow, the King having given him a chain worth 400 crowns.
Paris, 6th February 1557.
[Italian, partly in cipher; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
Feb. 6. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives. 811. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
In the council of war it was again proposed lately to cashier a certain number of troops, according to the suggestion of the Duke de Guise, and some of the members inclining towards the measure, the Treasurer-Commissary-General, who is much employed in all matters, adhering to the opinion of Strozzi, said that he would speak like a quack doctor (da dottoraccio), that it did not seem to him for the Pope's service to diminish these troops until they were first quite sure that the French were coming into these parts, and also that they were near at hand; and that the members of the council of war should bear in mind what took place in the time of Pope Clement from wishing to diminish the expenditure; that in certain cases, and at certain times, expenditure is a great gain; and thus was it resolved. On the morrow, the muster being made of the infantry and cavalry, the city gates were kept closed to prevent the enemy from knowing what had been determined, which was, at the suggestion of Marshal Strozzi, to send 1,000 infantry, with some horse (as they did), to Palestrina and the neighbouring places to cut off the retreat by way of the Campagna of the Spaniards in Tivoli; and they then sent another thousand and some cavalry to Castel St. Angelo, San Polo, and other places to prevent them from retreating by the Abruzzo road; and immediately after doing this, to depart hence with the rest of the troops and some artillery to attack Tivoli. But Castle St. Angelo having been occupied, and lately S. Polo with the assistance of the peasantry of the place, in which was a company that was all roughly treated (malmenata), the Count de Populo, seeing himself by degrees hemmed in, and perhaps also being informed of what had been resolved in the council of war, went out of Tivoli on the day after the capture of San Polo, together with his troops, and proceeded to destroy the bridge over the Teverone, so that the papal forces in the Campagna might not be able to follow him; and then returning to Tivoli he consigned the keys of the place to the inhabitants (a quelli homini), telling them to expect him in the spring, and thus he departed in the direction of Vignar (sic) (Vicovaro?).
On its being heard here that Tivoli had been evacuated, the Duke of Paliano and Marquis Strozzi went out of Rome with the intention of putting part into that city for two good effects, the one to relieve Rome of the burden of these troops and to encourage absentees to return, the other to be near the places held by the enemy, such as Vignar (Vicovaro?), Rocca di Papa, Anagni, and others, to enable them to make some expedition when the opportunity presents itself. The Treasurer told me that their chief attempt would be against Vignar (Vicovaro?), as it is a very important place, and that he had orders to send thither some pieces of artillery, it being already said that the peasantry thereabouts (li villani del paese) call them. The Spaniards in Nettuno lately made a foray as far as Ponte Mamolo, plundering much cattle and smaller live stock (molti animali grossi et menuti).
The Germans who were in Val Corsa have retired nearer the kingdom of Naples, and the brother of Cardinal Sermoneta, who is in Piperno, writes that many of them die from the hardships suffered by them on board the fleet. On Sunday Alvise dell' Amar arrived at Tivoli, having been sent by the Duke of Alva with the despatch from the King of Spain brought lately by Don Francisco Pacheco, on his way to Cardinal Caraffa at Bologna, as his lordship was evidently not coming to Rome. The said Alvise sent for a safe conduct, to obtain which Cardinal Pacheco went to the Pope, who answered him that Cardinal Caraffa was shortly to confer with the Duke de Guise at Modena, and would then come immediately postwise, and that he believed he had already left Bologna for this purpose, so that it was well to await his coming, and that this messenger from the Duke of Alva should then have audience, as to make him go at present to see the Cardinal would be unfitting, as it would create too much tumult, adding that matters were proceeding in such a way that a universal peace might soon be expected; at which words Cardinal Pacheco and some of his confidants then made merry (poi se n' ha riso).
This refusal of the safe conduct is supposed to be for the avoidance of causing any suspicion to the French; of which opportunity the Imperialists avail themselves by saying publicly that the articles have arrived, signed by King Philip, in conformity with what Cardinal Caraffa demanded at the interview with the Duke of Alva.
These French lords are strongly urging the dispensation of the first marriage of M. de Montmorency, the Constable's son, that he may marry the most Christian King's daughter. (fn. 3) The case has been committed to the Commissary-General, as told me by him, and he added that when the French wish for anything they are too eager, assuring me that the demand does not seem to him too reasonable, but that nevertheless the opportunity of the present times might avail them greatly.
I hear that the Duke of Florence is very suspicious of these French forces, and of the preparations of the Duke of Ferrara, so that he has put some Germans and Spaniards into the city, and has sent 500 infantry and upwards of 25 pieces of artillery to Scarperia, a place of his between Bologna and Florence, through which it is necessary to pass on the way to the last-named city; and with regard to this matter, I hear that the Pope, when talking with one of his chief confidants, said that it would, perhaps, not be amiss at present to attempt the expedition of Florence, and that it might succeed; to which the interlocutor replied that Florence was better than the kingdom of Naples.
On the 4th instant, under Frosinone, there was a considerable skirmish, in which some Spaniards were wounded, and of the Papalists Count Apolonio da Tiene, the Vicentine, who in truth is said to have borne himself bravely, he having been wounded by a harquebuse shot in the arm at the shoulder joint, his horse being killed by three harquebuse shots. The Pope speaks publicly of the kingdom of Naples as of a thing already acquired or rendered his own; and to the Bishop of Troes (sic), son of the late Prince of Amalfi, he said, when dining in public, that as he was a churchman, being unable to propose giving him his State, he had already thought of finding a husband for his sister, and giving him as dowry the State of his (the Bishop's) father.
Concerning Cardinal Caraffa, it is heard here that at Bologna he behaves himself in such a way as to render himself most acceptable to the whole city, and that he is making great provision for the coming of this French army. M. de Lansac departed hence yesterday on his way back to France, and I am told that the chief cause of this is that he was less well received than he would perhaps have desired. Off Monte Regio, the Pope's galleys fought and sunk a “galionetto,” belonging to a certain private individual of Aras (di certo particolar d'Aras (sic)), the cargo of silk and grain being bound from Sicily to Genoa, nor could any part of the cargo be saved; but they captured the persons on board, in number about 180, including mariners and passengers, though they were all persons of little consequence, with the exception of Pietro Spinola the Genoese.
The Cardinal San Giacomo [Juan Alvarez de Toledo] is rather seriously indisposed, having a very violent and constant fever.
Rome, 6th February 1557.
Feb. 9. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 812. Giacomo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Archbishop of Vienna (sic—Vienne?), who departed hence lately, took the King's orders to Cardinal Tournon, desiring him to endeavour to make terms with the Duke of Florence, of whom he demands the fortresses of Elba, Piombino, and Leghorn, and such amount of Tuscan troops as he may require. His Majesty consents to give his eldest daughter in marriage to his Excellency's eldest son, but without the obligation of sending her to Florence, as the Duke wished, though he nevertheless is to send his son hither. His Excellency also promises to obtain Sienna, and then to receive it from the King as his daughter's dower, to which his Majesty consents, and will also give the title of Prince of that city to the Duke's son; his Excellency also offering to give his eldest daughter to the Prince of Ferrara. The instructions given to Cardinal Tournon are nevertheless so ample (così largi), that if unable to effect the agreement in one way, he will in the other, so at any rate the conclusion is expected here, where this arrangement will, it is supposed, displease the Duke of Ferrara, because, besides his having been induced to enter the service of France owing to his enmity with the Duke of Florence, he hoped through the King's assistance to depress him, whereas, should the proposed alliance take place, he could not only no longer expect this, but would also lose his hope of getting Pistoia and such part of the territory towards Genoa as is now held by the Duke of Florence, which the King, according to the treaty, promised, when obtained, to give to the Duke of Ferrara, who least of all will approve of the marriage of the King's daughter, as he desired above all things that she should be given to the Prince his son.
A gentleman from the Admiral has brought notice of fresh forays made by the troops of the King of England in Picardy.
To-day the King gave the order of St. Michael to the Neapolitan outlaw, the Duke of Atri, whom he is sending to Italy.
Paris, 9th February 1557.
[Italian, partly in cipher; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
Feb. 12. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives. 813. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
I have received your Serenity's letters of the 6th desiring me to let the Pope know that at the Nuncio's request you have accommodated him with one ton and a half? (30 miara) of coarse artillery powder; so having demanded audience it was appointed me to-day at 3 p.m., when I found that his Holiness was in congregation with the Cardinal of Pisa, the Bishops Bozzuto and Beroaldo, Messer Guielmo the new Prothonotary, (fn. 4) and the Commissary-General. Congregation being ended his Holiness had me introduced, and told the Cardinal of Pisa to keep me company until he returned from doing a certain business of his own in the closet. In the meanwhile Cardinal Pisa told me that amongst the other matters discussed in congregation was Montmorency's marriage, and that the Pope to avoid doing what is improper will have no regard either for Princes nor for what others have done, but solely for what he ought to do; and for cases of this sort he will constitute one general rule, to which effect he had commissioned Cardinal Reumano to hold a congregation of canonists in his own house, and the Cardinal of Pisa one of theologians, and to have it debated whether the Pope can “separate” a marriage (pò separar un matrimonio) contracted per verba de prœsenti, but which has not been consummated. This order has been executed by the said Cardinals, and all the canonists say yes, the theologians no; although a few of these last adhere to the canonists, who base their argument chiefly on the authority of Pope Leo the First, who in letter 92 to Rusticus, Bishop of Narbonne, says that matrimonium per verba de prœsenti is not marriage, nisi accedat copula carnalis; and they chose to see an ancient copy in the Library here, for which Messer Guielmo was sent, which copy, not having the “not,” signifies quite the contrary, namely, that the words and the promise made the marriage.
Then the Pope having returned, and the Cardinal departing, I stated to his Holiness, as enjoined me, that your Serenity had accommodated his Holiness with three tons of coarse cannon powder. For this the Pope charged me to thank you, adding, “We are anxiously expecting our Cardinal, to hear from him amongst other things the account of the caresses and greetings, honours and favours received by him from the Signory, but he has been compelled to wait, to confer with M. de Guise and the Duke of Ferrara, which Duke de Guise shows by his letters a great wish for this conference, and I presume that by this time they may be together. They will arrange what they shall have to do, as we will leave it to them, being only moderately versed in warlike matters, though we know that so great a preparation will not be to no purpose; as besides the army on its march hither, one remains in Piedmont with M. de Brissac and M. de Termes, and in Flanders likewise the King is very well provided, as we also assured you the other day; so that these enemies of God will be chastised, they not having evinced any sign of reparation for the impiety committed by them, nor is there any punishment on record that they do not deserve, for they have lapsed into open heresy, by making their accursed doctors write that war against the See Apostolic is lawful for them, as if it were not notorious that it is less difficult to find heretical friars and priests than Christians.
“But they will now perceive whether the Lord God will punish them for their errors; now that they see the flood they talk of peace; yet have they not restored to us any part of the Church territory occupied by them, save by force, to render it quite clear, that what they omit doing is from inability to do it. They would now wish for the peace (contrary to their natural pride) to avoid their impending ruin; but they have been tardy, for it is no longer in our hand and we must now leave it to others to act. So great a flame has been kindled that it cannot be extinguished by any human ability, but only by the power of God, and all on account of that accursed silly boy (quella maledetta fraschetta), who would to God he had never been born, nor yet that iniquitous father of his (ne manco quel suo scellerato padre), the most pernicious plague to the world, and especially to Italy, which will never be at ease until they are expelled thence. The French, at least, when you have got over (schiavate) (sic) this their first impetuosity (furia), are our companions, and either repent spontaneously or accustom themselves (ò se invechiano), and they are yours; or if not, there are a thousand ways for getting rid of them; but those Imperialists (costoro) aspire to universal monarchy, to expel thence the Pope and the Signory of Venice; all the rest being theirs, the others being dukelings (duchetti) of little importance; the one of Florence would become aware, if Philip obtained firm footing in what he has, whether he could remain in his own State. Did they not attempt to do the like in Germany? (fn. 5) But they have not succeeded, although even at present they are treating, the one [Charles V.] to renounce the administration of the Empire to his brother, this last to cede to his [the Emperor's] son the election of the King of the Romans; so that province [Germany] is ill off, and were Sultan Soliman to harass it, as talked about, they would be in sorry plight; this would be a conflagration to consume everybody, and a very horrible storm.”
“Yes” (said I), “Holy Father, to devastate these wretched fields of Italy;” to which he rejoined, “It is true, but assuredly by no fault of ours, for we have had so much patience that even we ourselves regretted it, and the Spaniards themselves likewise, for they said, 'What is the Pope doing that he does not excommunicate and deprive us of empires and kingdoms?' But we did not do so, to avoid giving occasion to anyone to say that we had been the cause of drawing hostilities on ourselves by irritating them in such a way, and to confess our pride to you, because we had not sufficient forces to carry our sentences into effect. Who would believe that anger and pride could generate patience? But now that with God's assistance we can smite them, we will make our processes and send them to every quarter of the globe, and should wish to have good interpreters to translate them into Arabic, Persian, and Turkish, to send them even to the Infidels, so that when hearing of these disturbances they may also simultaneously know the cause, which on our part is so just and so holy.”
His Holiness then stopped, so that I hoped to be able to take leave, when he continued, somewhat angrily, “Do you also beware of injuring yourselves, for amongst you there is no lack of certain men (di alcuni cervelli) who seek to ruin you.” I replied, “There may be various opinions amongst those most excellent lords, but I am certain that the aim and object of all is the welfare and honour of their country, and of this I assure your Holiness as of a thing that cannot be otherwise;” and the Pope then added, “We know what we tell you, and these individuals are the enemies of God, of the religion, of their country, and of themselves, and were we in the Grand Council we would say the same, and point to this man and to that (et li mostraressemo a dito questo et questo). Pardon us, as the love we bear you causes us to tell you everything, as we should wish you to open your eyes to your welfare, and not to let promises be made you by these Moriscos, rebels to God, a treacherous race, without faith. May God keep His hand over your head, and cause you to know that this is the time to liberate Italy, to your glory and very great profit. Nor will we omit discovering our heart to you, as if by opening our breast we exposed it to you, and although we might be told, 'The ambassador will write it to the Signory, and the whole will be divulged,' we reply that we think that his Sublimity will keep faith and secrecy with us, and then that we choose rather to have it known, and to have said it, than to consign it to silence, lest we be reproached with having failed on our part by not having spoken in time.
We tell you that the King of France is so obedient a son to us that he could not be more so, and that he is most ready to gratify us in everything, and the Duke de Guise, in a number of letters written to the Cardinal and sent to us, writes nothing but that he is here for our service, and in truth he seems to be such as he has been represented to us; so if you choose to declare yourselves, and to put your hand to the liberation of Italy, you should have whatever you could ask, and without envy, for we should ask for you what you would scruple to demand. The kingdom of Sicily should be yours, and the King of France consents to it gladly, nor is there anything in all Europe more advantageous for you, as said by us on former occasions; and until you get that kingdom you should be given certain towns in Puglia, according to the acquisitions made by us, as recompense for costs, and under other good and secure pretexts, with such consent and investitures as necessary, and without requiring much from you,—a few galleys, of which you have always some armed, to go and take the places to be consigned to you. But you should not any longer delay letting yourselves be understood, as were you to come after the banquet to a table already prepared, it might then be impossible to do what would be wished, and to stay at the window with carpet and cushion viewing the entertainment, and then to send ambassadors with congratulations, would be an unseasonable office.
You must do something that may be acceptable: and the expedition to which you are invited, is it perhaps not an easy one, the success of which no one doubts? The mere report of your being with us would suffice. The Imperialists at Naples are confused, and know not in what direction to turn themselves, and through your assistance you may rely on rendering yourselves great and glorious, and this expedition, which as you see is about to be made, you thus secure; but that love for the most illustrious Signory which God has planted in my breast makes me speak to you in this fashion, because we should indeed wish to confer on you some signal benefit. Although we shall always be of the same mind yet nevertheless certain demonstrations, and at certain times, are of great importance. It rests with you to free Italy from the yoke of the barbarians. We shall soon depart, but as atonement for our sins we shall take with us before the judgment seat of God this merit of having wished to raise up this province, which is so depressed (afflitta) that the only spark of valour and mental generosity it contains is to be found in an old man now decrepid (pardon us if we speak of ourself thus, for we reckon that we are speaking with our sons), on whose death you will pluck your beards from despair at not having known him, when you will find yourselves with an ultramontane Pope, or a brain (un cervello) whose last thought will be the benefit of Italy.
But it might be said, 'Thou wilt expel the Spaniards to place the French.' It is not true; we will not have either one nor the other, for we purpose making a King of Naples and a Duke of Milan, who will have nothing besides that kingdom and that duchy, and to bring back Italy to her harmony (et redur Italia nella sua armonia), and this is so fixed in this head that we are of opinion that there is no other remedy for this Italy our common country. Those elders of mine (quei mei vecchioni) saw it in the same light when we, being at Venice, discoursed about these matters; they would have sacrificed their own children for it (haveriano speso li proprij figliuoli). We do not know the opinions of those who now rule, but we well know that they cannot contradict our assertion that to make a King of Naples with nothing but that kingdom, according to the very prudent and most holy statutes (constitution) of our forefathers—may God forgive him who for four farthings (per 4 quatrini) joined it to the Empire (fn. 6)and a Duke of Milan, with that duchy alone, would be the establishment of Italy, and close the gates to barbarians, admitting them solely as stable grooms and cooks (per fanti da stalla, cuochi), or at the utmost as merchants; nor can this be expected from the Spaniards, as they insist on universal monarchy, though it might indeed be hoped from the French, who have moreover hereditary claims there.
We would take two sons of the King; they should be educated in Italy, with Italian councillors, one as King of Naples, the investiture explaining, and indeed stipulating, that he could hold nothing besides that kingdom; the other as Duke of Milan, and to rid him of any claim to the Empire we would make it a kingdom, for, including what the King has in Piedmont, it deserves to be a kingdom, (fn. 7) on condition that he could never have anything else, and that it could never be united to the crown of France, together with all such securities as necessary. To this the King would consent and would give us his sons, who in a very short time would become Italians, and, what is of greater consequence than blood or anything else, they would be in Italy. We will also tell you that the Queen, who is a little saint (fn. 8) (che la Regina, che è una santarella), will give us a third son the length of this arm, whom we will make a cardinal; and we shall thus interest the King yet more in this Holy See, so that he will never detach himself from it, for, after all, they are Christians and not heretics, like these others; and we are about to tell the cardinals that we choose them to come and throw themselves on their knees at our feet, and to request us to place in their college a son of a King of France, for never have they had so great an honour.
These are our designs for freeing Italy, to the glory of God, and we regret not being heard, and that the Signory should not know their own welfare, though we hope in Christ that He will open your eyes, for the affair will be accomplished indubitably. It is already seen what the French army is doing; that it is advancing, and may be said to have the whole road open, having taken Valenza and other places said to be of importance, and which close the Genoa road, and that of Milan, and these others (questi altri) may see clearly that God has turned His back on them (li ha voltato le spalle), and that He intends to chastise them. Germany is indeed with them, but they have a lesser part of it than they believe. The King of France has more of it than they have, and we also have very great offers from certain princes, so that if we had had more money than we possess we would have raised a regiment of them, merely to show it to these Moriscos; and we will name one of them to you. You must know that we conferred the arehbishopric of Magdeburg on the son of the Marquis, which was so agrecable to them that both father and son, by most loving letters, have tendered obedience to any of our commands, although the father (who we think we have heard is dead) was not quite Gatholic (non fusse in tutto Catholico), but the son is a very worthy person, having been educated by his mother, who is a most excellent Christian; so that, in conclusion, we hope in God to have an easy undertaking, and if the Signory put their hand to it, it will be secure and certain, to your very great glory and advantage. May His Divine Majesty thus rouchsafe to open a window and show you the light of your welfare (così sua Divina Maestà si degni aprir una fenestra et farvi vedere il lume del vostro bene);” adding that I was to write the whole to your Sublimity. I, having replied that this was my duty, and that I would not fail to do so, took leave, to come and write what the Pope had said to me, although many of the things uttered by him were repetitions, having been already written by me on several ocasions.
Romo, 12th February 1557.
Feb. 13. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives. 814. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
The Florentine ambassador tells my secretary that his Duke has 12,000 infantry, of whom 3,000 are foreigners, and about 500 cavalry; that he has provided his fortresses with victuals, powder, ball, artillery, and other necessary supplies, naming especially Prato, Pistoia, Scarperia, and Florence, having had the open country so scowered that (to use his own phrase) there is not wherewithal to feed a cricket; and the peasants go into the castles to get bread from week to week. he has laid a most exorbitant tax on his whole territory, which will yield upwards of 200,000 crowns, one third part of which to be disbursed in 45 days. The ambassador added that he told the Pope that he feared lest King Philip despairing of making terms with him might trample the religion under foot entirely, like those reptiles (animaletti) which run away if anyone threatens them with a stick, but on receiving a blow and seeing the impossibility of escape, fly at him with their teeth; the result being, that so many barbarians will descend into Italy, that the territories both of friends and foes will be laid waste, as they are the natural enemies of the Italian name, as may be known by what those few Germans and Spaniards did who landed at Leghorn from the Imperial fleet, where they may be said not to have left one stone on the other, so that his Duke was compelled not to let them enter the city.
The peasantry of the territory where the enemy was, having come into Rome for bread, and taking away a great quantity, the Commissary-General issued an order for no one to pass the gates with more than one loaf, saying that it is not fair to run the risk of famishing Rome to support those who rebelled against the Church by admitting the Imperial forces into their castles and places. Of this measure the conservators of Rome went to complain to the Pope when he was at table, praying his Holiness to make provision for the cultivators of the soil to have the means of subsistence. The Pope rebuked them, saying that their cowardice and little faith had caused their present suffering, and that he will do nothing more, expelling them his presence in very harsh language, as he also did by the Friars of St. Onofrio, who complained of the injuries suffered by them through the fortification of Rome; to which his Holiness replied, that they might congratulate themselves on not having had their church and monastery destroyed, as necessary. When the Pope took his seat to commence the congregation of the Inquisition, the Portuguese ambassador, perhaps from having been unable to obtain audience on the preceding days, knelt before his Holiness, praying him to hear two words. The Pope, to the surprise of those who were present, dismissed him, saying it was not the hour for audience, adding other resentful language.
Yesterday the palace gates remained closed (with the exception of the principal one where the guard is quartered), to universal astonishment, until one knew the cause, which was, that they wanted to arrest two individuals, who, in front of the Pope's first chamber, where the Switzer guard is had, wounded on the head the apprentice (garzon) of his Holiness' barber; one of them was taken in the palace, and the other in the house of Cardinal de' Nobili. The Marquis of Monte Cavilio, lieutenant of the Pope's guard, wished to have them both hanged, but the Marquises of Paligniano and Montebello obtained pardon for one of them, a Neapolitan lad, whose only fault was his being in the company of the one who gave the wound. The latter was hanged and quartered to-day in St. Peter's Square; and the lad will be sent to the galleys. Messer Silvestro Aldobrandini, who is in bed with the gout, sent for my secretary to-day and told him that he had been charged by the Pope to write to Cardinal Caraffa, that before his return hither he is to make the necessary provisions for the army, and amongst the other things that he was to give him notice of the powder; and as the person who brought the order to Aldobrandini did not know the quantity, so he asked it of the secretary, who said it was three tons, as your Serenity had great difficulty in getting saltpetre for the manufacture of such powder as is required for your fleets and fortresses.
Rome, 13th February 1557.
Feb. 13. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 815. Giacomo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The only additional information I have to give about the negotiation with the Duke of Florence is, that for some time it has been kept alive (tenuto vivo) by the Cardinal of Ferrara, although internally the Duke his brother cannot approve it. As yet, however, he has evinced no dissatisfaction, and the general belief is that the treaty will at any rate be concluded, for everybody talks about it, much being said concerning the benefit which will thus accrue to his most Christian Majesty's affairs in Italy; so that on the evening before last the Constable, when talking with the Genoese outlaw, Count Scipion del Fiesco, and joking about it, said to him, “Make ready to go to Genoa, for I assure you your hopes were never so near being realized.” The last advices from the Duke de Guise purport that he has passed the Milanese, and was to meet Cardinal Caraffa and the Duke of Ferrara, after which conference he will despatch a courier with the decision about the mode of invading the kingdom of Naples, an expedition now much more constantly discussed than it was a few days ago, owing to this adjustment with the Duke of Florence. His most Christian Majesty himself talks of it diffusely (largamente), and in his chamber he has a map with the description of the kingdom and its confines, and he examines it several times daily, and talks about it with such persons as are able to give him information on the subject. Affairs in Picardy remain as written by me, his Majesty wishing them to proceed as quietly as possible; and it is understood that the Admiral has suggested to the Governor of the frontier of Flanders that it would be well for them to stipulate between themselves a reciprocal truce in those parts.
The Duke de Guise has informed the King of the great accommodation of victuals, &c. received from the Duke of Parma, and especially of a very honourable present sent to himself individually; so the Duke of Parma is much commended here.
Paris, 13th February 1557.
[Italian, partly in cipher; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Laigi Pasini.]
Feb. 15. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives, 816. Bernardo Navagero, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
Yesterday at 7 p.m. word was sent to me from the palace that Vicovaro (Vignar) had been taken by storm, so I desired the secretary to congratulate the Pope.
Messer Silvestro [Aldobrandini] showed him the letter which he wrote last night to Cardinal Caraffa, in substance as follows:— “The capture of Vicovaro (Vignar) by storm took place, as announced to the Pope by the Duke of Paliano, thus. On Thursday night two pieces of artillery were planted above (ad alto) and two below (a basso), and on Friday they opened their fire; they then planted four others below and two more above. The enemy sent out a Spaniard to ask terms, which were refused, and the battering having continued, they on Sunday morning sent forth a captain, who in like manner went back with a denial. M. de Montmoreney, fearing they might make terms, advanced with the Gascons and made an assault, but was driven back. At 3 p.m. they sent out another messenger, who was told to go in again and to bring out in writing what they demanded, and authority to stipulate. Scarcely had he gone 20 paces when Marshal Strozzi had a cannon shot fired at a bastion (ad un fianco) on which were some 25 Spaniards, and it mauled all of them (et li malmenò tutti); they then discharged all the rest of the guns and made the assault, effecting their entry and putting everybody to death, save some who retired into the citadel, which by turning the two pieces of artillery against it will be taken. Our loss amounted to some 10 killed and 40 wounded.” Aldobrandini added that he did not know in what direction these troops would march, but is of opinion that it would not be well to besiege places which present any difficulty, and where the enemy, who have still some bodies of troops, can put in succour, but that being now in possession of Vicovaro (Vignar) they might cross into the state of Tagliacozzo, which belongs to the Colonna family, and destroy and burn it, cutting the inhabitants to pieces (tagliar a pezzi li homini), so as to render it henceforth uninhabitable, that territory having so often enabled the said Colonna family to do notable damage to the Church, and now brought an army even to the gates of Rome.
Whilst talking thus there came in unexpectedly the lieutenant of the Pope's guard, the Marchese di Monteparchio, saying, “I bring you a piece of good news, that Messer Giulio Tancredi, the Duke's maggiordomo, has arrived, bringing word that the citadel has been taken and all the Spaniards cut to pieces. The secretary, as commissioned by me, went upstairs to the Pontiff, Aldobrandini having said to him in the act of departure, that the devil had chosen to celebrate the carnival by cutting to pieces 500 Spaniards and Germans, who were at Vicovaro and in the citadel, and assuredly against the will of the Duke, who shouted and commanded that they were not to be killed, but to be made prisoners, but he was not obeyed, for the Gascons in that fury and rage chose to glut themselves. Within they found letters from the Count di Populo, telling them to hold out for two days when he would at any rate succour them, the Duke of Alva also having approached and being at Sora.
At noon the Pope came out of his chamber, and at the door my secretary knelt before him, congratulating him on this victory in my absence, apologizing for my not going in person, and saying that your Serenity would hear of it with great satisfaction. His Holiness stooped to his ear and said, “Thank the ambassador for this office, and tell him, that we pray God to open the eyes of those most illustrious Lords that they may see how the glory of His Majesty proceeds and that they may do what will be to their profit and honour.”
Rome, 15th February 1557.
Feb. 15. MS. St. Mark's Library, Cod. xxiv. Cl. X. p. 183, recto. 817. Cardinal Pole to Cardinal [Carlo] Caraffa.
The messenger sent by Cardinal Pole to Rome informed him that on the way, having heard of Cardinal Caraffa's going to Venice, he took that road in order to find him, and that having told Caraffa in Pole's name why he was sent to the Pope, the answer was that the Cardinal desired above all things some good arrangement, whereby to allay these disturbances. Although subsequently the messenger [Henry Penning?] found the Pope much irritated owing to what had taken place, Pole nevertheless continues to have good hope, not having yet heard of the arrival at Rome of Don Francisco Pacheco, whose commission, as always said by the Spanish ministers here, was such as to warrant the belief that it would satisfy the Pope. Don Ruy Gomez, who came to England to assure the Queen of the King's speedy arrival, and to take his passage to Spain, confirmed Pole in this hope entertained by his Majesty, speaking at great length on the subject, in confirmation of the King's good will; his chief wish being always to show himself an obedient son and most closely linked with his Holiness, of whom he always spoke with all due respect; regretting the suspicions and circumstances which had brought matters to their present state, evincing, however, the best hope of an adjustment with his Holiness. Prays God thus to comfort Christendom, and especially the Caraffa family, which, from what Pole has been able to gather from King Philip, may reasonably promise itself all favour and service from him, should affairs be arranged as hoped by means of Cardinal Caraffa's prudence and his influence with the Pope, whose feet Pole requests him to kiss in his name.
Greenwich, 15th February 1557.


  • 1. Che di quella nostra torsi troppo pacientia, che ha dato da mormorar fiuo alli medesimi Spagnoli (che si racordamo havervi detto, che al principio della guerra alcuni si licentiomo dal Duca d'Alva per non venir contra la chiesa, che in ogni loco Dio po' haver delli soi) è stato anco causa il non haver più forze che tauto, et noi non volevimo baiar senza poter morder.
  • 2. Charles de Marillac was translated from Vannes to Vienne on the 24th March 1557; but in the original despatch the words are “Partì a questi giorm de quì l'Arcivescovo di Vienna” (sic).
  • 3. Diana, widow, Duchess de Castro (la Bâtarde de France), the King's illegitimate daughter by the Duchess of Valentinois. (See Sir William Hackett's Index to Foreign Calendar, 1553–1558.)
  • 4. Messer Guielmo Calabrese, Librarian of the Vatican. (See before, date 30th January 1557.
  • 5. Quando Filippo fermasse ben il piede in quello che ha, s' el potesse star nel suo stato; non volevano far il simile in Alemagna?
  • 6. Allusion to the Bull of Leo X., made at the close of 1519, emnpowerig the Emperor to hold the kingdom of Naples, contrary to the investiture given by Julius II. on the 3rd July 1510, to Ferdinand the Catholic.
  • 7. Et per cavarlo dalla pretension dell' Imperio, lo faressimo Regno, perchè ha tanto stado con quel che ha il Re, di Piamonte, che merita esser Regno.”
  • 8. When Catherine de' Medici was some five months old. Leo X. told the Venetian ambassador at Rome on the 29th October 1519 (and this he said with the tears in his eyes), that “la puta del quondam D. Lorenzo, era bella grasota,” a plump and pretty infant. It remained for Paul IV., who detested Leo X., to call her “a little saint.” The inscription on one of her medals runs thus: “mater Castrorum.“