Venice: December 1559

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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'Venice: December 1559', in Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 7, 1558-1580, (London, 1890) pp. 134-142. British History Online [accessed 24 April 2024]

December 1559

Dec. 1. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 114. Giovanni Michiel, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
When accompanying his sister, the Queen of Spain, the King did not go beyond Châtellerault, and the Queen-mother also stayed there, and determined to let her go without further hindrance; so on the 25th ultimo they took leave of each other at that place.
The Queen of Spain was attended by the King of Navarre, by his brother the Cardinal de Bourbon [Charles, junior], and by the Prince de la Rochesur-Yon, who will accompany her to Spain, and to present the Order of St. Michael, sent by his most Christain Majesty to the King Catholic; but the King of Navarre and his brother will not cross the frontiers.
The most Christian King arrived here on his return to-day with the intention of remaining here till Carnival, and in the meanwhile the ministers will reform many abuses; but what matters most, they will discuss what concerns the religion, which is assuredly in great disorder, and has need of more than ordinary care and remedy, as from all quarters fresh disturbances are heard of daily, as although in Paris and other cities not a week passes without many persons being burnt alive, a yet greater number being imprisoned, the contagion nevertheless does not cease, but spreads more and more daily. During the three days of the King's stay at Châtellerault the availed himself of the opportunity for calling into his presence and the Queen-mother's all the principal inhabitants of that town, which, having been the ordinary residue of the Earl of Arran, has the reputation of being much infected; and the Cardinal [Louis] de Lorraine made them so very serious an admonition that many were so alarmed as to take flight.
Since the King's return advices received by him from Scotland on his journey have been published, purporting that the French troops who made the sally from Little Leith (Petilit) against the Scots had not only killed and wounded many of them, but routed the rest, who were in great number, and following up the victory the same Frenchmen recovered the town of Edinburgh. This rout caused such disunion and discord amongst the Scottish chiefs, that they had already retired, some in one direction and some in another; and overtures for an agreement had commenced, but with such haughtiness and pride on the part of the Scottish barons as to show that they wished to give terms and not to receive them. These advices add that the Lord Chancellor of that kingdom was about to embark, being sent by the majority to try and obtain a general pardon from the King and Queen for the barons on their returning to their former obedience. The Queen Regent had announced this intention to their Majesties, but [desired] that the principal chiefs should not be included in this amnesty. (fn. 1)
Blois, 1st December 1559.
Dec. 4. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 115. Paulo Tiepolo, Venetian Ambassador with King Philip, to the Doge and Senate.
His Majesty has complained to me of the irresolution of the Conclave, blaming the humours of the Cardinals, who ought to have regard solely for the commonweal, most especially at this present time, when, Christendom being at peace, some remedy might be expected for the many disorders of the Roman Catholic religion.
I hear by letters from England that the Duke of Châtellerault alias Earl of Arran, about whom I wrote heretofore from Flanders that he had made some stir about religion in Scotland, has entered that kingdom, where he was creating great confusion; but here we are so far away that I can write no news to your Serenity about these matters.
Toledo, 4th December 1559.
Dec. 6. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 116. Giovanni Michiel, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
On the day before yesterday his most Christian Majesty's Secretary at Rome arrived thence, having been despatched by the Cardinal de Guise, and by the others of the French faction now in conclave, to notify in what state the election of the Pope now is; and from what the Cardinal de Lorraine told me yesterday the choice was reduced to the [Cardinals] Cesis and Araceli, and according to his belief Araceli would have the preference, he being without kinsfolk or dependant, and also a man of letters, who had always led a good life; which was also confirmed to me by the Queen-mother, a proof that this side will not oppose him: the Cardinal of Lorraine adding that he will doubtless be elected at Christmas.
Blois, 6th December 1559.
Dec. 11. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 117. Paulo Tiepolo, Venetian Ambassador with King Philip, to the Doge and Senate.
Thinks it his duty to report what he has heard about the Conclave.
Cardinal [? Alessandro] Farnese endeavoured to render the Catholic King suspicious of the Cardinal of Mantua [Ercole Gonzaga] by writing to his Majesty that he must be very cautious about favouring that Cardinal, a league having been already formed between him, the French, and the Dukes of Ferrara, Florence, and Urbino.
The Duke of Florence, however, has exculpated himself with the King through his Ambassador, and the Duke of Urbino has also written a letter to his Majesty, showing that this charge was a calumny and invention of Cardinal Farnese to thwart Mantua.
The King laughs at these ebullitions, and says to everybody, “What strange ideas those Cardinals have!” but he nevertheless does not show himself very favourable to Mantua, whose prospects some think have been injured by the too warm support of the Ambassadors of Florence and Urbino, and by the coming of the Marchese di Pescara, as all these circumstances may increase his Majesty's suspicions, that if he obtained the Popedom he would be too powerful, and above all, that it would not be safe to have the Marchese as Governor of the Milanese. (fn. 2)
Then on the 6th instant the Ambassador from Mantua received complaints to his-Majesty of the proceedings of the Ambassador Vargas in disfavour of the Cardinal of Mantua.
The Ambassador complained bitterly to his Majesty of Vargas' conduct, and gave his Majesty to understand that the votes in favour of the Cardinal of Mantua exceed those of all the other candidates, and that favour ought rather to be afforded him, as were he to gain but three votes he would be elected Pope, and his Majesty might make sure of seeing a Pope upon whom he could rely.
The King answered in general terms that he wished for Mantua in preference to all the others, and that he had favoured him so far as his conscience allowed him, but took time to reply about the other matters, and sent to the Duke of Alva, who had not yet come to the Court, being detained by a slight fit of the gout, to have his opinion.
His Majesty is much troubled on this account, as on the one hand he would not wish Mantua to be Pope, and on the other he fears lest all the Gonzaga dependants remain very dissatisfied.
I have seen the copy of a long letter from the Duke of Urbino to Vargas, in which he demonstrated to Vargas that he had failed in his duty, because when he arrived at Rome, having represented the Cardinal of Mantua as his Majesty's adherent, he might have had him elected Pope if he had chosen to influence but slightly the opposite party, which is entirely dependant on his Majesty, and Vargas might thus easily have obtained for Mantua the few votes needed; but when the occasion arose Vargas spoke very coldly in favour of Mantua, and dissuaded [? the Cardinals] from voting for him again. That Vargas had thus tacitly supported Farnese and Caraffa, who told him to his face that they would make a French Pope, but he neither showed his teeth, nor reproved, nor threatened them. That if he had to gratify either of these two parties, he should remember that one was represented by the “Camerlengo” [Guido Ascanio Sforza] and Mantua [Ercole Gonzaga], the other by Farnese and Caraffa; that what the “Camerlengo” had endured for his Majesty's service was notorious; that Mantua had a circle of kinsfolk, who time out of mind had been the servants of the Emperor and King-Philip, and that notwithstanding great offers made to him, Mantua would never swerve from his allegiance to his Majesty, having educated two Dukes of Mantua, his nephews, as the devoted servants of his Catholic Majesty; while on the other hand Farnese, not many years ago, was the Emperor's enemy and the ally of France, causing many wars, the expenditure of millions of gold, and much bloodshed; and Caraffa broke the peace, brought the French into Italy, and sowed the seed of a thousand scandalous proceedings.
The Duke of Urbino, therefore, reproached Vargas for setting a bad example to the King's servants by discountenancing in every way those who had done him good service, even to their own detriment, and by favouring his Majesty's enemies and opponents. And he let Vargas know what he thought of this his mode of negotiating that he might take better counsel, as should he choose there would still be time to do his duty and seek the King's advantage.
The Ambassador from Urbino showed this letter to several persons, and doubtless to his Majesty likewise, as on this subject he speaks to him very freely and with great warmth.
Toledo, 11th December 1559.
[Italian; the 'portion in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
Dec. 13. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 118. Giovanni Michiel, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The King and these chief ministers, thinking it undignified for this kingdom to tolerate such long delay about the restitution of St. Quentin and the other fortresses, desired the French minister, resident with the Duchess of Parma, Regent of Flanders, to deliver to her a very peremptory message, demanding consignment of the hostages, &c. within 24 hours; the result of which was, that the Duchess said that, the Spanish ministers in Italy having at length assured her of the entire restitution made by France to those who had claims on her, the French Government would from hour to hour receive advice of a fact which had been so long desired. The French hostages in England are to be replaced, so that those who were sent first may no longer be aggrieved by remaining abroad; and the French Ambassador resident there will also be changed. At Constantinople, the person appointed to visit Sultan Soliman, in this King's name, on his accession, will reside there in lieu of the deceased La Vigne, although he is a youth supposed to have little experience of business and public affairs, being the son of a rich woman, named Dolve, who sells cloths of silk in Paris, but he having been heretofore and being still the favourite and dependant of the Cardinal de Lorraine, as is also his mother, they have given him the place, although any other person, even slightly his superior, would have refused it, as no one goes willingly to Constantinople; and he will depart in a few days.
The French Vice-Chancellor of Scotland has arrived to give a more accurate account of the affairs of that kingdom, and to petition, as written by me, for a general pardon, but having been long on the journey he did not bring any fresh news.
Yesterday morning by letters dated Rome, 3rd instant, the Cardinal [Louis] de Lorraine made known, what is kept very secret, that the candidature of the Cardinal of Ferrara was proceeding so well that in the course of that week they hoped to elect him Pope, having gained Cardinal Caraffa.
To attend better to hawking, in which he greatly delights (though his father did not), and to other field sports, the most Christian King has retired till Christmas to the palace of Chambord, four leagues hence, and besides the Queen-mother and the Queen, his wife, he has made the Chancellor and the Privy Council go thither, to arrange his finances for next year.
Blois, 13th December 1559.
Dec. 15. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 119. Paulo Tiepolo, Venetian Ambassador with King Philip, to the Doge and Senate.
The Queen was to be at the frontiers on the 15th instant, and will keep Christmas at Pampeluna, being unable to reach Guada-laxara, where the King will wait for her before the 12th January. The Cardinal of Burgos, and the Duke dell' Infantazgo, have gone to meet her. They are incurring vast expenditure, it being asserted that this journey will cost the Duke upwards of 150,000 crowns, he having chosen to exceed every ordinary term of magnificence, for it is said that he has had the cords for girthing the baggage mules made of silk and gold, with a thousand other superfluities scarcely credible until they are seen.
I hear from the French Ambassador that in a great skirmish in Scotland the French troops had so routed the Earl of Arran that with difficulty he saved himself, but that having got into one of his strongholds (terra forte), he demanded of the Queen (Regent) that she should grant to him and to all those people the Interim conceded heretofore by the Emperor to Germany, showing (mostrando) that with this he would remain satisfied. (fn. 3)
The Queen of England still remained undecided about her marriage, though amongst all the competitors she showed most inclination for the Prince [Archduke] Charles. The Duke of Finland, second son of the King of Sweden, is with her. He came to favour the suit of his elder brother, and then proposed himself, but the man's manners did not please the Queen. The second son also of the late Duke John Frederick of Saxony, who heretofore was proposed to the Queen by the French, but who was subsequently deserted by them because they wished her to marry an Englishman, that she might not depend on foreigners and their assistance, had not relinquished his pretensions, as he had sent a Count Mansfeldt (fn. 4) to propose to the Queen. The King of Denmark in like manner has not failed to exert himself, but the general opinion is that if the affairs of the Earl of Arran prosper, he will prevail over all competitors.
Toledo, 15th December 1559.
[Italian; the portion in italics deciphered, by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
Dec. 22. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 120. Paulo Tiepolo, Venetian Ambassador with King Philip, to the Doge and Senate.
It is reported that the Duke of Florence is sending the Prince his son to this Court, the cause being to obtain the hand of the Princess [of Portugal], his Majesty's sister, and I know on very good authority that a person, who thought to please the Princess, said a good word to her about this alliance, to which she showed herself utterly averse, being inclined towards a higher connexion. It is asserted that she has a design on the Prince of Spain [Don Carlos], her nephew, who seems very fond of her, although some years younger than she is, and on this account the Princes governors never allow him to remain alone with the Princess, perhaps by the King's order.
Toledo, 22nd December 1559.
[Italian; the portion in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
121 List of King Philip's Council. [Enclosed in the preceding.]
(1.) Councillors of State who were in Flanders.
Don Antonio de Toledo, Cavallarrizzo Maggior.
The Duke of Francavilla, President of the Council of Justice.
The Duke of Alva, Maggiordomo Maggior.—He has not yet come to the Court.
Don Ruy Gomez de Silva, Cameriero Maggior.—He is ill at Madrid.
Don Juan Maurique de Lara, Maggiordomo.—He has not yet come to the Court.
The Count de Feria.—He remained in Flanders.
The Bishop of Arras.—He remained in Flanders.
Don Francisco Vargas.—He went Ambassador to Rome.
(2.) Councillors of State who were in Spain.
The Archbishop of Seville, General of the Inquisition.—He is considered a man of worth, rather than very learned or experienced in worldly affairs.
Don Garcia de Toledo, Maggiordomo, and Governor of the Prince.—He has never been out of Spain, so far as I can learn.
Don Gutierre Lopez de Padilla, Maggiordomo.—He held high office in Piedmont.
The Regent Figueroa.—He was heretofore Regent in Naples and Syndic Major in Milan.
Don Luis de Ayala, Commendator Maggior of Alcantara.—He wrote the history of the war of Germany waged by the Emperor against the Protestants; and was Captain-General of light horse in Flanders.
The Archbishop of Toledo.—He is in prison on a charge of heresy.
Don Juan Vaschez de Alolina (sic).—A pupil of Covos; first he was secretary of the Empress, then of the Emperor, and of the King, for affairs of state in Spain; and now he has great authority with his Majesty, who has made him his councillor.
Don Gonzalo Perez.— He is Secretary of State for the affairs of Italy; but custom causes those also of Germany, France, and England to pass through his hands.
[Italian; the pjortion in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
Dec. 30. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 122. Giovanni Michiel, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
M. de Levis, who returned from Venice three days ago, delivered to me your Serenity's of the 9th instant, desiring me to thank his Majesty for having sent such a gentleman to announce his accession; so I made this announcement to the King, who said briefly what had been told me more in full by the Cardinal [Louis] de Lorraine, and by the Queen-mother. I urged all of them, especially the Cardinal, to despatch the lawsuit pending here between Don Agustin Ragazzoni and the Admiralty, so often recommended by me, and no longer to permit Ragazzoni by his adversaries' chicanery to be subjected to delay in so clear a case, as proved by the testimony not only of your Serenity, but of the French Ambassadors themselves, who were in England at the time. The King and the Queen-mother said they would give orders accordingly to the Cardinal of Lorraine. (fn. 5)
Blois, 30th December 1559.
Dec. 30. Epistolæ Poli, V., 353, 354. 123. Alvise Priuli to Lodovico Beccatello, Archbishop of Ragusa.
Last summer, in England, I answered (fn. 6) your Lordship's letter, which accompanied one from Father Crisostomo, and I addressed my reply to the care of Messer Niccolò di Nali.
Our Abbate Gerio having subsequently left Flanders, I have had no further news of him or of you. After they had lasted full eight months (ben otto mesi), I at length got rid of my many quartan fevers, but they left me very weak, and with other remains of so serious and protracted a malady. At the beginning of September I relapsed again into a quartan fever, but by God's grace, contrary to the opinion of many persons, it subsided after the ninth paroxysm. But both before and at that time, and since also, I never had any lack of divers troubles and chicanery (mai non mi mancarono diversi intrichi e travagli) on account of this blessed executorship, from some of which having at length extricated myself as well as I could, I obtained leave to depart, as I did on the 16th ultimo, and came hither to Paris with the convenience of a litter, though not without much toil, and peril also; so that I determined not to continue my journey towards Italy before the commencement of spring, in which resolve I am yet more confirmed, having within the last few days had an attack of jaundice, which the physicians say is the frequent result of prolonged quartan maladies, most especially with elderly persons, and they were of opinion that I should not recover so speedily; but by the grace of God my health improved, and this convalescence continues, so that I hope soon to be quite cured. Should this come to pass I intend going as far as Orleans for the rest of the winter, as a place better suited to this season, and near Blois, where our most noble and very dear Messer Giovanni Michiel is, the Signory's ambassador resident with the most Christian King, so that I shall be easily able to go and see him, and enjoy his most agreeable and affectionate society. Should it please our Lord God that I arrive in Italy, I hope one day or another again to see your Lordship, and to remain some days with you. During this interval I will not fail to give you news of myself and my condition, in like manner as I wish to hear of yours. I address this letter to my brother, the Magnifico Messer Antonio, who will easily find means to forward it, and should you write to me and transmit your letter in like manner, you may be sure that I shall get it.
I do not think it necessary to write anything further to our most kind Dom Crisostomo, knowing that your Lordship will communicate this to him, before the receipt of which, I fancy we shall have a new Pope. (fn. 7) May it please the goodness of God that he may be such an one as is required by the many and great wants of Christendom. Having nothing else to say at present, I recommend myself heartily to you and our said good Father, praying you not to forget me in your devout prayers. Our Messer Enrico [Henry Penning] is here in my company, with the determination to come with me into Italy, and with all affection he kisses your Lordship's hand.
Paris, 30th December 1559.
Most affectionate servant, Alvise Priuli.


  • 1. The latter end of this paragraph is partly illegible in the original.
  • 2. Fernando Francesco d'Avalos, Marquis of Pescara, had for wife Isabella di Gonzaga.
  • 3. The Interim of Augsburg, granted by the Emperor Charles V. in 1548.
  • 4. Volrad Count Mansfeldt. (See Calendar of State Papers, Foreign, 1559–60. Index.)
  • 5. Jacopo Ragazzoni, the brother of Agustin, was a Venetian merchant established in England from the time of Henry VIII., until 1558, when he returned to Venice. The lawsuit recorded in this despatch has been alluded to in Vol. 6, part 2, Venetian Calendar, date 12 to 22 April, and 11 May 1557, when, before the breaking out of the war between England and France, goods shipped by the Ragazzoni firm in London had been seized by French pirates.
  • 6. See 13th June 1559.
  • 7. Pope Paul IV., who had persecuted Pole and Priuli for their heretical opinions, died on the 18th August 1559, and was succeeded by Pope Pius IV. on the 26th December following.