Venice: March 1560, 1-15

Pages 151-157

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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March 1560, 1–15

March 3. (fn. 1) Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 130. Giovanni Michiel, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Although an agreement is being negotiated about the affairs of Scotland to avoid war with England, the French Ministry are hastening the despatch of the Admiral of Normandy, for which province he will depart in three or four days, they having already given orders to detain all the ships, and to collect the greatest possible quantity of provisions and ammunition, of which the French troops in Scotland have no less need than of reinforcements. If the disturbances continue, the small French force in Scotland run great risk of never returning home, as according to the last advices they are in greater danger than ever, for the Queen Regent having seized three Scottish gentlemen had them hanged immediately in public, which so enraged all the others that they made a furious assault and killed three whole companies of Frenchmen, not one of them having escaped. They (the Scotch) had also recovered the island of Inch-keith (l'Isola de'Cavalli); which news the English Ambassador said was confirmed to him this morning, and the feat was performed principally by the father of the Earl of. . . . (illegible in MS.)
When the French Ministry heard of the departure from England of the two Ambassadors to the King of Spain, it was determined that his most Christian Majesty should accredit to him M. de Rambouillet, a lord in waiting, not merely for the purpose of visiting Queen Elizabeth of France (who by the last letters from Spain was ill of the small-pox), but also to give account to the King Catholic of the state of affairs in Scotland, which require succour, as the Queen of England is raising forces in every direction, and her ministers insult and affront his most Christian Majesty's subjects, showing evident signs of coming to a rupture. King Francis therefore informs King Philip that he will do what he can to avoid breaking the peace, but if compelled to wage war under provocation, and from necessity, he must be excused for doing so by the King Catholic and all other potentates. From Spain M. de Rambouillet will go to Portugal, to salute the infant King, (fn. 2) the Queen, (fn. 3) and the Cardinal, (fn. 4) King Francis since his accession not having sent anyone thither as he did to all the other Courts.
Amboise, 3rd March 1560.
March 4. Copy. Venetian Archives. 131. Summary of the Articles treated with Mons. de Seurre (Scevre), French Ambassador, at Westminster on the 4th of March; which articles were proposed to the King of France, to the Queen Mother, and to the Cardinal of Lorraine on the 13th of the said month by the Ambassador from England. (fn. 5)
That the innovations made by the most Christian King, and by the Queen, his wife, to the prejudice of the Queen of England, about the matter of arms and titles, be immediately reformed and do cease entirely, as was agreed by the said King's Ambassador in England.
That all the forces of the said King be immediately recalled from Scotland, and the ancient privileges of the Scots restored to them, and that the said recall may begin by the 21st instant at the furthest, and that one-third may be recalled by the 24th instant, half before the 28th instant, and the whole before 2nd April; which is demanded from necessity, to the end that the aforesaid very great suspicion conceived on the part of the said Queen may be suppressed and extirpated. And that the said things may the sooner take effect the Queen of England considers it would be well for the said King to send authority (potere) to some good personage in England or in Scotland, such as the Bishop of Valence or the Ambassador Seurre here in England, or the Bishop of Amiens, La Brosse, or Martigues in Scotland, for this negotiation, namely the points concerning the recall of the said forces, which would greatly benefit this affair, and be better than to await the coming of some personage from France.
That the Queen of England will grant to the French forces safe conducts by sea and land, and permit them to be transported safely in the vessels of England to the parts of France; and as for those who are not content to pass by sea, or have not convenience for doing so, it will be granted them to pass through suitable places in the kingdom of England without other arms than sword or rapier, and to have passage to France.
That the said Queen of England promises that after the removal by the most Christian King of the forces from Scotland as aforesaid, she in like manner will withdraw her recently collected forces, both by sea and land; the most Christian King also giving orders at his seaports and other parts and places of his realm that they are no longer to make any preparations for war, and that those already commenced be discontinued; and that to this effect immediate command be given everywhere. It moreover seems necessary to the said Queen of England for the said King, if on his part he has resolved to have universal repose in these three kingdoms, as the said Queen desires with her whole heart, to send with all diligence a large and ample commission to some personage in England to proceed thence to Scotland, or to some one else already in Scotland, that (on finding the Duke de Châtellerault and others of the nobility, his adherents, prepared to recognise the Queen of Scotland as their sovereign lady, and the most Christian King likewise in right of the said Queen, his wife), he do make and ordain a reliable assurance and restitution of the liberty of their country, so that they may be governed without force of arms according to the ancient laws and liberties of the realm by the natural born people of the land, or else as it shall seem well to the three States freely and without force in Parliament, for the benefit of the Queen of Scotland.
And that this peace may always continue firm and durable, and that a closer friendship may be established between their said Majesties, the Queen of England wishes (desidera) the last treaty of peace made at Cateau Cambresis to be also confirmed and ratified.
March 6. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 132. Giovanni Michiel, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
It was believed that the severity exercised during the last few months in Paris and many other French cities against persons condemned for their religion, of whom very great numbers were burnt alive, would have so terrified the survivors that they would not have dared even to speak, still less to proceed further, and for several days the usual notice of such executions was less frequent; but since the Court came hither two facts occurred at one and the same time contrary to these expectations at Rouen and Bordeaux, where divers armed men had the audacity not only to rescue from the royal officials certain prisoners on their way to execution for the cause of religion, but also to maltreat and wound the officials, killing some of them, and openly threatening to do the like by their comrades unless they desisted from enforcing this sentence. Although these events are very much regretted, they were heard without surprise, the like being now of frequent occurrence; but the news received on the day before yesterday has beyond measure disquieted everybody, most especially the ministry, for they have discovered a conspiracy, which was to have taken effect from hour to hour, of such quality and importance that its accomplices comprise a great number of Frenchmen, who are all said to be of quality, but it has a deeper root than a secret understanding; besides those of Geneva and some of the chief cantons of Switzerland, and of a certain great potentate whose name is not yet revealed. It is said they intended to kill the King in person (though this is not confirmed) and all these noblemen of the Guise family, especially the Cardinal of Lorraine (which is perfectly true), as the person in whose hands are the whole authority and government, and from whom the religious persecution is supposed to emanate, and thus by his death to introduce a new form of government. Yesterday three of the conspirators were brought from Paris to this town, but it is not yet well known who they are, though the mode of their conveyance shows clearly that they were persons of great consequence, they having been conducted muffled, (fn. 6) and accompanied by some hundred horse, including the archers of the company of men-at-arms of Marshal Montmorency, the Provost of Paris, a leading official, being also there in person; they avoided the high road and all towns and walled places, and lodged in open places, from fear of being attacked had they taken the ordinary road, and made to release their prisoners, as has happened more than once this year to other prisoners of less importance. They are now being very secretly and carefully examined, and the King has sent for the Constable (although he is rather unwell), for all the Princes of the kingdom, a great part of whom are here, and for all the knights of St. Michael, his Majesty choosing them to be present, and to have their counsel and opinion in proceeding to effect the necessary executions.
A courier from Spain arrived here yesterday, and one of the chief ministers was heard to say that the King Catholic, when he heard of the troubles caused to his most Christian Majesty by the affairs of Scotland, besides what he told the French Ambassador in Spain, wrote to his own Ambassador here that, by reason of the relationship and alliance between them, not only did he offer him what favour and assistance he could against the rebels of Scotland, but he would also write to the Queen of England and give her to understand that she must not show them any sort of favour, it not being reasonable that either she or others should interfere between the Sovereign and his rebel vassals, but let him punish them, as the like might occur to her as to others from her own subjects, and that he would give her his word and secure her against any doubt or suspicion she might have of King Francis, promising that he will observe the peace between them. The same courier brought news that the Queen Catholic has already recovered.
Amboise, 6th March 1560.
March 13. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 133. Paulo Tiepolo, Venetian Ambassador with King Philip, to the Doge and Senate.
I have been to this most Serene Prince [Don Carlos] with congratulations in your Serenity's name on the oath of obedience taken by these realms to him as their legitimate successor. I found his Highness much depressed by fourth day ague, and therefore weak and languid, but towards me he showed himself beyond all comparison more affable and courteous than he was on a former occasion, (fn. 7) for not only did he return my salute by doffing his bonnet, but spoke to me also more familiarly, inquiring how I liked my abode in Spain; so I know clearly that at my first audience he had not received the due instructions. With his Highness there was Don John of Austria, a youth between 13 and 14 years old, with a very well proportioned figure and pleasing face and manner, so that even at this early age he gives good promise of himself.
I then went to visit the Queen, who has recovered; her malady was firmly believed to be small-pox. Her Majesty rose from her chair when I approached her, and then resuming her seat sent for a chair for me, but it came so late that when told to sit down I was taking leave of her Majesty, to whom I endeavoured to demonstrate the affection and reverence borne her by your Serenity. M. de Lansac answered me in her name very affably and lovingly, promising perpetual goodwill on the part of her Majesty towards your Serenity.
They have now been occupied with the entertainments postponed on account of the Queen's indisposition, and on the first Monday in Lent there was a tourney on foot in the courtyard of the Palace; it succeeded very well, the King being one of the challengers, and he fought with six cavaliers, with spear and rapier. On the following Sunday the tourney on horseback took place, his Majesty taking part in it; his aids were Don John of Austria and the Prince of Parma, who, youths as they are, tilted and used their rapiers. The contest lasted an hour, to the great fatigue and perspiration of the cavaliers, for they fought and skirmished all at once without ever resting. The King was so heated that fever supervened, which kept him in bed for three days; I hear that to-day he is up and well. Next Sunday the cane game is to be performed, and thus will end these Lenten entertainments, which were not celebrated with so much pomp as was expected, and as became so magnificent a Court, because the expenses already incurred by everybody are but too much felt.
The Bohemian Baron Pernestan has arrived, being sent by the Emperor and by the King and Queen of Bohemia to congratulate the King Catholic and his Queen, and in the names of all three of their Majesties he has brought separate presents of jewels for this Queen. The King has honoured him greatly and had him lodged by the Marquis de Villena, (fn. 8) who boards him and all his gentlemen and attendants.
The King of Portugal had taken from his subjects as a deposit about a million of crowns, for which he paid them ten per cent. per annum, and he has now declared that he will no longer pay them more than five, affirming that he does so to disburden his conscience, his theologians having reproached him with this sin. This thing has much frightened the merchants, most especially the Genoese, to whom he owes considerable sums, lest he fail in his promise to them likewise; and although the Queen Governess (fn. 9) sent for the chief merchants now in Lisbon, and told them to be sure the King will keep his promise to them, and that they will certainly be paid by means of the pepper contract, for there is a very great quantity of pepper on board the fleet whose arrival is expected from day to day, it is nevertheless strongly suspected that henceforth this King will lose much of the credit given him hitherto, as no one more easily than he got money in exchange for produce, so that at the last fair of Medina he obtained about 900,000 crowns.
King Philip has satisfied the claims of the Genoese on him for the costs of the war in Corsica, giving them 130,000 crowns security on the oil duty in the kingdom of Naples.
The French Ambassador has made many complaints against the Queen of England to the King Catholic, and he says that his Majesty answered that he will use every endeavour to prevent the Queen from giving cause for resentment to the most Christian King, and that should she persist, he will not fail to do what becomes a good and loving friend and kinsman.
Toledo, 13th March 1560.
[Italian; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
March 15. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 134. Giovanni Michiel, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Some 18 or 20 of the conspirators have been arrested in the towns and villages in this neighbourhood, the greater part of them being gentlemen and captains. The Cardinal himself says that several large trunks full of pistols were found in their possession in order to carry out this plot, some of them certifying that upwards of 60 men, part foreigners and part native Frenchmen, who were living in retirement on account of religion at Geneva, came hither to aid the plot and to be present with the conspirators on the day of its execution, having been assured by a great number of French gentlemen that after doing the deed they would guarantee their escape from France in safety. Through the seizure of these individuals, orders have been given for many other arrests. The importance of the conspiracy is thus more and more known hourly, and it causes very great anxiety not only to the Guise family, but to all persons in general, by reason of the quantity and quality of the conspirators, whose arrest has caused the Grand Prior (fn. 10) to remain here (instead of returning to Marseilles to give orders for the galleys to come into these seas), as also the Admiral (fn. 11) and some others of these chief personages, who had already taken leave to go to their respective stations.
The English Ambassador has [received]. . . . (fn. 12) couriers, who came with great speed, and were accompanied by a French gentleman despatched by the King's Ambassador resident with Queen Elizabeth, who brought letters dated the 10th, in reply to what Throckmorton wrote after his conference with the Cardinal of Lorraine. The Queen (so Throckmorton told me) having approved of what her Ambassador treated with the Cardinal about commencing the negotiation and seeing whether it be possible to succeed in making an agreement between these three kingdoms of France, England and Scotland, had sent him a form of compact, which, after showing it to the Cardinal, and giving it to the most Christian King and to the Queen-mother, Throckmorton promised not only to show to me likewise, but to give me a copy of it, and that he will moreover tell me the answer given him. He has had great suspicion lately owing to a report current at the Court of succour and assistance offered by the King of Spain to his most Christian Majesty, namely, that 3,000 Spaniards, the usual garrison of Flanders, had been recently embarked on 18 large “ urche “ and sent by King Philip's order to Scotland to join the French against the Scots; but from advices received from Flanders, whither Throckmorton sent a man expressly, as also from what the Spanish Ambassador resident here (fn. 13) has said, it seems that the said Spaniards were bound for Spain, the Flemings not choosing to give any contribution to the King Catholic unless in conformity with his promise the Spaniards be entirely removed thence, so that not one remain; such are the hatred and indignation conceived against them by the Flemings.
In the meanwhile, although an agreement is talked of, these ministers do not fail amassing pecuniary supply with all diligence, and they will soon have 2,000,000 francs ready to spend in war, if it occur; of which sum they have already sent 400,000 francs to Normandy, for the despatch of the ships and payment of the provisions and ammunition, which are still being prepared for Scotland.
Besides the release of all persons imprisoned on account of religion, I hear on good authority that it is also determined to allow all those who on this account went to live abroad, either in Germany or Switzerland, freely to enjoy such property and revenues as they have in France.
Amboise, 10th March 1560.


  • 1. From the 30th December 1559 to the 3rd March 1560, I can find no despatches from Giovanni Michiel in the Venetian Archives. (R. Brown.)
  • 2. Sebastian, born 20th January 1554.
  • 3. Catherine of Austria, widow of John III.
  • 4. Henry of Braganza, brother of John III., and who, on the death of King Sebastian, succeeded to the Crown of Portugal on the 28th August 1578.
  • 5. The Ambassador was Sir Nicholas Throckmorton, and the fact of his presentation of these articles on the 13th March may be read in Foreign Calendar, “Elizabeth,” p. 447, No. 854. This copy of the Articles seems to have been enclosed in a later despatch of Paulo Tiepolo. At pp. 423–426, Foreign Calendar, there will be found other documents relating to this negociation.
  • 6.
  • 7. See before, date, Valladolid, 16 October 1559.
  • 8. A member of the Pacheco family.
  • 9. Catherine of Austria, sister of Charles V., widow of John III., King of Portugal, and grandmother of Don Sebastian.
  • 10. Réné de Lorraine, Marquis d'Elbœuf.
  • 11. Gaspar de Coligny, Seigneur de Chastillon, Admiral of France.
  • 12. Number illegible in MS.
  • 13. Thomas Perrenot, Seigneur de Champagney.