Venice: July 1559

Pages 106-114

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 7, 1558-1580. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1890.

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July 1559

July 5. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 83. Giovanni Michiel, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate. (fn. 1)
I wrote yesterday, by way of Milan, the state of the most Christian King's indisposition, and how the hope of his life increased, although last night his Majesty was rather feverish, but this morning being without any fever, having slept for four or five hours, the regret which would have been caused by its continuance is in part alleviated. The pain at the back of his neck has greatly diminished, this being attributed to the application of certain cupping glasses.
Paris, 5th July 1559.
July 10. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 84. Paulo Tiepolo, Venetian Ambassador with King Philip, to the Doge and Senate.
The Spanish fleet, on board of which his Majesty intends to cross, has arrived, and today its admiral came into this city.
There has been a question lately of taking the Bishop of Arras to Spain, concerning which many Cabinet Councils were held, it seeming that by reason of his experience and intelligence it would be well to have him about his Majesty's person, but it was at length determined that his presence in these Provinces was necessary on account of the counsel he might from time to time afford to the Lady Governess.
A few days ago King Philip authorised his most Christian Majesty to raise a loan on the Mart at Antwerp, where he obtained 400,000 crowns.
It is heard from France that King Henry's life is in very great danger, and that he can scarcely recover, which causes great regret here, by so much the more as it is doubtful what might take place in case of his demise.
The stir about religion has again revived at Antwerp, for one day lately upwards of 1,000 persons went forth from that city into the woods to hear the preaching of their deceivers. As almost every week some one is burnt in the towns of these Provinces, it is surprising that this fire cannot be quenched, and that it should break out again more and more daily.
On Sunday it had been intended to commence holding a Chapter of the Knights of the Fleece, but owing to the illness of the most Christian King it will possibly be deferred.
Ghent, 10th July 1559.
[Italian; the portion in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
July 12. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 85. Giovanni Michiel, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The most Christian King, by name Francis II., as known to your Serenity, immediately after the death of his father commenced arranging the mode of government, and as he is but a youth (having entered his 16th year last January), and therefore has need of support and counsel, he wills that, together with the ministers for affairs, the Queen, his mother, shall not only participate in, but superintend everything, and that all matters be referred and addressed to her, he continuing more than ever to bear her that reverence and respect which were extreme at all times. To console her he has also made the liberal demonstration of presenting her with all that lapses to his most Christian Majesty, on this new accession, through the confirmation of offices, and renewal of fiefs, privileges, and the like, which are supposed to yield more than a million of gold.
The King has called to the Government the Chancellor Ollivieri [François Ollivier de Lenville], who has been living here at hand in retirement in his own house ever since the late King deprived him of his authority. His Majesty has also willed that M. de Roucherolle (sic), his ancient and very confidential servant, who sleeps in his chamber, be also honoured at this commencement as his father had honoured the Marshal de St. André, whom he however does not exclude from the said Council, but wills that the Duke de Guise be at the head of military matters, and that he command the army. State negotiations (cose di negotij) are to be transacted by the Cardinal of Lorraine, to whom his Majesty caused to be consigned all the seals, which at the death of the late King had been placed in the hands of the Secretary l'Aubespine by the Constable, whose authority has commenced diminishing openly, for they have removed him from the chamber he inhabited near his Majesty's, and placed in it the Cardinal of Lorraine, giving the Constable another chamber, the furthest off, in the lower part of the palace. The King called the Constable into his presence yesterday afternoon, and told him that although he had lost so good a master, he would nevertheless still find the same good will in his present Majesty in any need he might experience, as in the King, his father; and that he was to attend as before to the performance of his offices as Grand Master and Constable. The King also invited him to attend with the others at the deliberations which are being held about the re-construction of the Government; but the Constable excused himself by saying that from old age and weariness he would retire after the great obsequies, with his Majesty's good grace. It does not seem that the King made any opposition to this, but tacitly accepted his excuses, after having given him many other fair words, the Cardinal of Lorraine being-present during the whole time. Then his Majesty sent the Constable back to take custody of the corpse. This nobleman thus all at once, after a service exceeding 40 years, is disconsolate and dissatisfied, though externally he exhibits incredible and admirable constancy and mental fortitude, it never having been seen that the very great grief which is felt by him internally, and which may be supposed to exceed that of all the others, caused him to shed a tear; bearing always the same countenance, and having always before him the corpse of the deceased King, whom he ruled (reteneva) when alive. It has been remarked as a strange thing that since the death of the King, when everybody appeared at Court, not only were none of the Constable's sons, brothers-in-law, and nephews seen there, but not even any of his dependants, however inferior their grade.
The Kings corpse, embalmed and arrayed, has been carried into the church of Notre Dame, where it will remain for 40 days, as usual; and at the palace morning and evening his effigy is presented with the ordinary table service, which is placed before him in the same order and as ceremoniously as when he was alive; the viands being then distributed amongst the poor.
After the expiration of the 40 days, the obsequies will be performed in the church of St. Denis, where the present King will be crowned; and then he will go to Rheims to be anointed and consecrated.
His Majesty has given the Duchess of Valentinois to understand that he has forgotten and forgiven all the injuries and offences done to him and to the Queen, his mother, and that henceforth she is to remain in retirement, and live as far from the Court as possible, enjoying however all her property and revenues in security, without fear of molestation; but when she was required to give account of many articles of jewellery which had belonged to the King, her humble reply purported that these articles existed, and that although the King had given them to her, not only these, but whatever else she possessed, were at the Queen's and his Majesty's disposal, nor does she wish to retain even her life without their Majesty's good grace. Thus the Duchess, although supposed to be immensely rich, remains dishonoured and an exile.
The Princes of the blood, such as the two brothers the Cardinal de Bourbon and the Prince de Condé, with the Duke de Mont-pensier and the Prince de la Roche-sur-Yonne, went immediately to his Majesty, and said that as he was of an age to rule, they, for the union, quiet, and maintenance of the Crown, would willingly obey all those whom he had placed in the Government. The King of Navarre is absent, but would have already arrived, had it not been for an ulcer in his lower parts (but not a dangerous one), which causes him to travel slowly, and for the most part in a litter.
Besides Don Ruy Gomez, who brought many valuable jewels as a present [for the Queen of Spain], the Marquis of Berghes arrived the day before the King's death. He was sent by the King Catholic to visit the Queen, his consort, as also her father. Both these noblemen will return to Flanders the day after to-morrow, Don Ruy Gomez having already had his present as one of the Delegates (Deputati) at the negotiation for the peace; its value being from 23,000 to 24,00/) crowns, in silver gilt vases. The hostages who remain here are the Duke of Alva and the Prince of Orange, until the entire restitution be made by Spain; the French having to restore what they hold in Corsica and Tuscany. The Duke of Savoy on the day before the King's death made his most tearful marriage, consummating it on that same night, and having no time to lose is still enjoying the fruits of it, though deeply grieved by this catastrophe; nor will he depart hence, until he hears that Cocconato [Matteo da Coconà] has had possession of his state.
Some days ago, M. de Montpesat, who had been sent to bring the Scottish Earl of Arran, returned with an account of his having taken flight and withdrawn to England, which will increase the disturbances of Scotland, which is agitated (sollevato) by the same cause of religion. During the late King's lifetime it had been intended to send M. de la Brosse to that kingdom [Scotland] with 100 [men-at-arms] and eight companies of infantry; to be followed shortly afterwards by the Marquis [d'Elbœuf?] as Governor-General. It is not known at present whether this and other orders will be cancelled.
Paris, 12th July 1559.
July 16. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 86. Giovanni Michiel, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
In remodelling the Government his most Christian Majesty has determined, by the advice of his mother and of the Guise family, to admit into the Council of Affairs, not only the Dukes of Savoy and Lorraine, the one his uncle and the other his brother-in-law, and the Prince of Ferrara, likewise his brother in-law, but also others of his most intimate and ancient servants, viz., M. de Lansac, heretofore his governor, M. de la Brosse, lieutenant of his men-at-arms, and M. de Sourdis, who in the time of King Francis, as the person who slept in his chamber, had a seat in that Council.
This arrangement has caused both envy and no little anger on the part of certain other Princes, especially these of the blood royal, the Duke de Montpensier, and the Princes of Condé and Roche-sur-Yon, to whom it seemed that by reason of the interest they have in the Crown this privilege ought not to be extended to foreigners. The fact very speedily convinced them and others that they are merely honoured externally, it having been remarked from the first day that before the “Council of Affairs” assembles, the Cardinal of Lorraine and the Duke de Guise with the Chancellof meet first, either in the King's chamber or in that of the Queen-mother, where they discuss privately all matters of the greatest importance, without communicating their deliberations to others For this purpose the Queen-mother now inhabits the apartments beneath the King's, so that they may more easily have communication with each other by means of a private staircase at all hours and without being perceived by any one.
I am told by a trustworthy person that the Prince of Ferrara deeming himself insufficiently honoured, has in great wrath complained to his sister, the Duchess de Guise, telling her that he is held in no more account now than he was in the lifetime of the late King, and that if the Duke de Guise and the Cardinal [Louis de Lorraine] think to feed him with smoke, they deceive themselves, as he will soon free himself, and seek support from another quarter where he has great offers; so his sister with great difficulty made him promise he would not make any disturbance with the King or with the Queen-mother, and it seems that they have not only given him hope but a promise that the Duke de Guise and the Cardinal will do whatever they can for him.
Together with this reform of the Council of Affairs, his most Christian Majesty has deprived the Admiral [Gaspar Comte de Coligny, Seigneur de Chastillon] the Constable's nephew, of the government of Picardy, and given it to the Prince of Condé; and has also deprived the Duke de Bouillon, the son of Madame de Valentinois' daughter, of the government of Normandy, and given it to the Duke de Nemours as compensation for not having appointed him a member of the Council of Affairs, of which proceeding he had complained greatly. By fair words his Majesty pacified the latter, but owing to the clamour made by the Duke de Montpensier, Bouillon's father-in-law,—who said freely that if his son-in-law was deprived of that government contrary to the promise made to him, when by the advice and assistance of these Guises he made this matrimonial alliance, he (Montpensier) would depart from the Court, never again to return,—for the present no further change will be made, and the adherents of the Duke de Nemours say that instead of the government of Normandy he has been promised that of Britany, hitherto held by the Duke d'Etampes; besides which, the King will pay all his debts, which are considerable, for although poor he is by nature very prodigal. The Constable's brother-in-law, the Count of Tenda, has been deprived of the government of Provence, which has been given to the Grand Prior, the brother of these Guises, to unite in his person both military and naval command, he being General of the fleet; but this decision, it is thought, may be suspended. M. d'Andelot, the Admiral's brother and nephew of the Constable, has also been deprived of the command of the French infantry, which, as his ancient office, had been given back to him after he recanted in the matter of religion, and it has been conferred on M. de Martigues, the favourite and dependant of the Duke de Guise. Thus they do not scruple openly to degrade these persons, who depend on the Constable; but his Excellency himself, who no longer appears at the Court, except in the afternoon, and as privately as he can, adheres to his determination about complete retirement after the obsequies, which will be performed on the 10th of August; and the consecration and coronation will take place on the 1st of September.
Paris, 16th July 1559.
[Italian; the portion in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
July 18. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 87. Giovanni Michiel, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Duke of Savoy departed hence to-day on his way back to the King Catholic, with the determination to return hither as soon as he can; and then, accompanied by his Consort, he will proceed to his State, news of its consignment and restitution being expected hourly, the present King having confirmed all that was granted by his father. I hear that during the lifetime of the late King the Duke was promised forthwith two of the five reserved fortresses namely Chieri and Villanuova d'Asti, whereas it is now heard that he will not be thus gratified, but that they will not swerve in the least from the other terms of the treaty; which makes the Duke feel much more bitterly the death of the late King, the affection and relationship with the present one being less close than with the former, through the great hopes given him [by the late King], with the assistance and instrumentality of the Constable, who had no other object than that of bringing him forward, and making him as great as he possibly could, not only on the Constable's own account, but to raise an obstacle and counterpoise to this house of Guise. Nevertheless, the present King gives the Duke very fair words indeed, not only saying that he shall consider him as his uncle, always trusting to him his person and his crown (stato), but also as his father, referring to his experience and judgment all such matters as shall have need of counsel.
I visited the Duke at the hour appointed for the Ambassadors, but owing to his many occupations, both before and after the catastrophe, causing him to be always with the King and Queen in person, I had no opportunity for speaking to him; so it did not seem to us consistent with dignity, not having any business with him, to return after the first time.
With the said Duke there also departed the Prince of Orange, he being one of the four hostages, and having given his “parole” to the most Christian King to return whenever called for. Don Ruy Gomez still remains here, in hourly expectation of a courier from his King with the decision whether, without returning to Flanders, he may go hence direct through France to Spain; and the same courier is also expected to bring the announcement of what is to be done by the Queen Catholic, who it is said will be accompanied by the Cardinal de Guise, in lieu of the Cardinal of Chastillon [Odet de Coligny].
The most Christian King, to remain more at liberty and free from business, and to shelter himself from this excessive heat, which commenced unexpectedly six days ago, has withdrawn for three days with the Cardinal of Lorraine and the Duke de Guise to a place six leagues hence; so the audience assigned me for yesterday has been deferred till he returns.
The Queen of England sent hither the son of her Lord Chamberlain with a very loving letter to visit and congratulate the late most Christian King on the advices she had received of his improvement and that he was considered out of danger; but as the messenger did not arrive until three days ago, the office destined for the father was performed by him yesterday with the son. He also brought the latest news of the insurrections in Scotland, but they are kept secret here, namely, that the Queen Regent was reduced to extremities, being besieged in the Castle of Dunbar, and that her opponents were one of the bastards of the late King, her husband, and the Earl of Argyle [Archibald Campbell], who had mustered upwards of 20,000 men; so it is much feared that the reinforcement which was to have been sent hence will either not arrive in time or find great difficulty in landing, the said persons having occupied the harbours and made themselves masters of the greater part of the ships. It is heard that the son of the Earl of Arran had not arrived in England, so the report of his having got to Geneva may be true; and in his stead they brought a young brother of his, who is still here, and allowed to go about everywhere.
Concerning matters of religion, a very severe proclamation was lately issued here against all heretics. Persons knowing not only of heretics, but of those suspected of heresy, and who do not inform against them, are subject to the same penalties as the principals.
Concerning the marriage of the Queen of England, the same messenger, who came lately from England, says, and his statement is confirmed by the Ambassador, that they are expecting an Ambassador from the Emperor, besides the one already there, indicating that the negotiation with his Imperial Majesty is closer than it has been hitherto; but another Ambassador is also awaited from the King of Sweden, to treat the same matter.
Paris, 18th July 1559.
[Italian; the portion in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
July 22. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 88. Paulo Tiepolo, Venetian Ambassador with King Philip, to the Doge and Senate.
This King continues firmly determined to embark on the 8th proximo, and nothing but some great accident could delay him for an hour, such anxiety does he evince to proceed speedily in Spain; but with all the haste made here, and notwithstanding the reward promised to the artificers, it is impossible to prepare the church for the obsequies [of the King of France] by the 25th as intended, so they are necessarily postponed till the 27th, but the 29th remains fixed for holding the Chapter of the Order of the Fleece.
To-morrow your Serenity's Ambassador da Mula will make his entry, and it is fortunate that he has not delayed longer, as on the next day the Duchess of Parma will arrive, and subsequently the Duke of Savoy and the Prince of Orange, who will keep the whole Court occupied in going forth to meet them, and then come the obsequies and the Chapter; but immediately after the obsequies I hope the King will give him audience.
According to report, the Duke of Alva will go to Spain, having already obtained permission from both Kings. Don Ruy Gomez will in like manner go thither by land, but King Philip has commissioned him first of all to stay some days in France, lest it appear that the personages resident there in his Majesty's name depart thence all at once.
150,000 crowns have arrived at Antwerp as a remittance from France for this King, on account of his consort's dower, according to the agreements made.
Three days ago (on her entrance into this city) King Philip gave the Duchess of Lorraine 61,000 ducats, namely 40,000 as compensation for 4,000 ducats revenue already promised her, and 21,000 for the three journeys which she had to make for this treaty of peace, at the rate of 7,000 crowns for each journey. Besides this, as she was not satisfied with the Governorship of Lecce, which had been promised to her with an annual revenue of 6,000 crowns, she will have to be provided with an equivalent elsewhere.
After many difficulties the King of Denmark, having “been victorious over his enemies, conquered the island (sic) of Dithmarsen, making the inhabitants give up all their arms, levying a fine of 120,000 crowns, and subjecting them also to a certain annual tribute.
The Count de Feria has inquired of Don Diego de la Chaux if he would serve King Philip with your Serenity. He was for a long while Ambassador from the King of the Romans at Rome, and arrived here a few days ago from the Emperors Court, wishing to obtain some honourable employment; and were he to accept this offer, I think your Serenity would be well served from what I saw of him at the Court of the King of the Romans; so I show him every sort of civility, he visiting me occasionally, and seeming to be much my friend.
Ghent, 22nd July 1559.
[Italian; the portion in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
July 30. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 89. Giovanni Michiel, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
M. de l'Hôpital, late Governor of Madame Marguerite, Duchess of Savoy, has been admitted to the Privy Council, and it is said that the Cardinal de Chastillon and the Duke d'Etampes will be removed from it. I am also told that these Guises, as their apology for these deprivations and new orders, always tell the injured parties that it is the will of the Queen-mother, from which the most Christian King cannot dissent. The Constable's nephew, the Admiral, owing to the Constable's and his own exertions, has been restored to the government of Picardy, and they have sent him to inspect the whole of that frontier, and also to Calais to examine the repairs of that fortress, and in case he find them well executed, according to the designs, he is to give orders to continue and complete the works.
A few days ago, after the departure of the Court, the Constable, in a long conversation with the Duke of Alva, told him of his intention to retire from the Court; and the Duke being of a contrary opinion, said that the sons of kings, although usually wont to love their father's ministers less than they love other persons, cannot do otherwise than esteem them, and gave him besides many other reasons, the regard he ought to have for his children; so it seems that owing to the Duke of Alva the Constable has changed his mind, and, as said by many of his adherents, has almost determined to return to the Court, to perform the same constant service for the Queen-mother (who has called and invited him) as he was accustomed to do for the most Christian King, her husband, seeing in fact that she can do as she pleases, having now commenced transacting business immediately after dinner for two consecutive hours in his Majesty's chamber, although they do not omit as usual to assemble also in the morning, but only for one hour, in the royal chamber; so all decisions are made in the afternoon in presence of the Queen-mother.
Shortly before the late King's death the Duke of Alva requested his permission to return to the King Catholic on “parole,” upon giving security for 200,000 crowns to return whenever called; and this was apparently promised him; but now, when the Court departed, on his repeating that request, he was answered that the other two hostages, the Count d'Egmont and the Prince of Orange, having departed, he must be pleased to wait his due term, after the restitutions have been effected, but time was asked to speak about this matter with the Queen-mother, who, T am told, has confirmed the resolution not to give the Duke leave.
Concerning the restitutions, a secretary has come from M. de Boissac from Piedmont to tell the King that he had thought it well not to consign possession of Savoy and Piedmont to Coconato the Duke [of Savoy]'s agent, until he had a fresh order from his Majesty, the commission to Coconato being in the name of the late King; so it was necessary to send him a fresh order immediately, with the present King's confirmation for the same person, and with the same commission.
The Ambassador from England [Sir Nicholas Throckmorton] tells me that by his last advices thence (though not the public ones) the Scots had notified to the Queen Regent, she having retired into Dunbar, that if she would remove from the island all the French ministers and soldiers, they would obey her as their lady and mistress, and would maintain her in that grade and dignity which became her, as otherwise they would endeavour to expel her by force; nor will they tolerate, as hitherto, the introduction of foreigners and their garrisons. For this reason here they are hastening the departure of the infantry and cavalry, having already prepared the ships for this purpose at Dieppe, that they may set sail on the 15th or 16th of next month; and the day before yesterday an express was sent through England to warn the Queen Regent to temporise with fair words, so as not to further exasperate that people until the arrival of the troops destined for her.
Concerning the marriage of the Queen of England, I hear as a great secret, through the most intimate and confidential servants of the Duke de Nemours, that the Duke of Savoy spoke more than once to Nemours about this marriage, giving him hope that that Queen may probably choose him; and the day before the Duke of Savoy departed hence he promised to send to her in England one of his confidential attendants to treat this affair; so that from the Duke of Savoy's promises Nemours has great hopes of succeeding, as in the time of the late King, and with his consent, he entered upon the same negotiation and made very good progress from the inclination which the Queen evinced towards him; although subsequently during the King's lifetime, the Constable thwarted the whole negotiation, perhaps for some end and hidden design of his Majesty to invade that island; it being rumoured now, more than ever, that the first war or aggressive undertaking will be that one, though it will not indeed be so soon.
Paris, 30th July 1559.


  • 1. The despatches which were doubtless written by Tiepolo from Brussels, and by Michiel from Paris, giving details of the tilting match on the 30th June 1559, which caused the death of Henry II. on the 10th July, no longer exist in the Venetian Archives.