Venice: March 1560, 16-25

Pages 157-174

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, 16–25

March 16, Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 135. Giovanni Michiel, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
During the last two days very unexpectedly the suspicion and stir which took place lately on account of the conspiracy were renewed, for on the morning of the 15th not only were all the gates of the castle and of the town kept closed with very strict guard, no one being allowed admittance to the Court until after 10 a.m., and only one chief gate being kept open; but in the afternoon the Marshal de St. André [Jacques d'Albon] was despatched in great haste to Tours, with a numerous company of gentlemen, including the few Italian captains now accidentally here, so that he departed with nearly 200 horse, with order to take five companies of men-at-arms from the garrison in this immediate neighbourhood. He was followed shortly afterwards by all these Princes horsed in like manner, viz., M. d'Aumale, the Duke de Nemours, the Prince of Condé (who arrived at the Court the day before yesterday), the Grand Prior, and even the Duke of Ferrara's brother Don Luigi d'Este, although he is a churchman; and with a numerous retinue they went out of the town, dividing themselves into two parties, one party on one side and the other party on the side of the river [Loire]. It was not then known for what purpose they or the Marshal made these movements, so that the suspense was general and the alarm yet greater; but from a confidential person, who has the means of hearing much, I ascertained that in the preceding night several couriers had arrived at the Court bringing advice of a universal commotion (though silent and secret) in all the towns of Guienne, Gascony, Saintonge, Perigueux, Limosin, Agenois, and other provinces, with the determination to arm for their security against whoever might injure them on account of religion, retaining however their obedience to the King and the Crown.
For this purpose they have determined to muster 200 cavalry for each town in those provinces, that they may patrol the territory for its safety; for the payment and maintenance of which force they intend to avail themselves of the revenues and effects of the abbacies and monasteries of each province, taxing them arbitrarily, and using force if unable to obtain payment in any other way, as practised by the Marquis Albert.
I also hear through another channel that on that same night some letters of very evil nature, but in cipher, were intercepted, and that Secretary l'Aubespine deciphered them. They were addressed by the conspirators to their accomplices, revealing fully their intention, which was to come to punish these two miscreants (mesicanti—sic), the precise words of the letters as told by the Duke de Guise to the person who repeated them to me, and which, in reading the letters to the King, the Cardinal [of Lorraine] interpreted to mean no others than himself and the Duke de Guise.
When the conspiracy was first discovered, the Count de Sancerre, a knight of St. Michael, was sent to Tours to keep close watch on those who went to and from that city, which is only six short leagues hence; other knights of that order being sent to Blois and other neighbouring towns. At Tours some captains who arrived there were suspected by the Count of being amongst the conspirators, and when he wanted to arrest them, they resisted; and although the whole city of Tours had taken up arms in the King's name against them, they made their escape into a small castle two leagues hence. (fn. 1) The Marshal of St. André was therefore sent with the forces above mentioned to support Sancerre, as they do not rely on the people and citizens of Tours; and after remaining five or six days he is to advance into Guienne for the prevention of disturbances there. Last night two couriers were despatched to recall the Marshal and all who accompanied him. The movement made by the Princes of the blood was, as subsequently appeared, to support the King's archers who had been sent to seize the conspirators who made their escape from Tours. These were arrested without opposition whilst incautiously walking for their pleasure outside the said castle, being 25 in number, and, with five others arrested at Tours by the Count de Sancerre, they have been brought hither; and with them the aforesaid Princes returned. Amongst the prisoners is a Gascon gentleman, one Baron de Castelnau (Castelnuovo), a person of quality and very well known, who, considering himself ill-used by the Cardinal and the Duke de Guise, with many other captains and soldiers dissatisfied with the said Lords, both on account of nonpayment of their arrears and because they had been dismissed the Court under very severe penalties, finding themselves without salary or any means, and being half desperate, joined the other insurgents about religion, and conspired against the Cardinal and the Duke de Guise.
Then to-day the Princes, having again remounted their horses, and accompanied by more than 600 cavalry, again went forth to perform other executions, there being still evidence of many meetings held everywhere in this neighbourhood, so that the movement is perpetual. This morning four captains were despatched to raise companies with the utmost speed to secure the territory hereabouts, lest in this great commotion some vast body of people appear suddenly to put the King and his Court to flight, and perhaps endanger them.
After I had written thus far, the Princes returned, bringing with them 60 prisoners captured a league and half hence, and after immediate examination, which showed them to be all common people who had risen in arms, partly from friendship for certain captains under whom they had served (et per seguito da alcuni capitani), and partly on receiving a trifle of earnest money in lieu of pay, as usual when soldiers are raised for companies, without knowing the site of their service, or its purpose, they were all dismissed with the exception of one or two who remained prisoners, the Chancellor [François Ollivier de Lenville] (fn. 2) having gravely admonished and told them that though they deserved to die, the King of his clemency for this once granted them their lives; and to enable them to return home his Majesty had one crown given to each man.
The Baron, of Castelnau and the other prisoners of quality (di rispetto) are waiting to be examined, the Cardinal, the Chancellor, and the Ministers having been occupied as above the whole of this day.
Amboise, 16th March 1560.
March 17. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 136. Giovanni Michiel, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
We have now been in greater commotion than ever, for this morning at daybreak two hundred cavalry made their appearance, and not only most audaciously entered one of the suburbs of this town, but part of them came even to the church “Des Bonnes Femmes” at the foot of the ascent to the Castle, in which the King- is lodged. They thought themselves almost sure of not finding any sort of resistance, and that they would consequently be able to effect their purpose, as all these Princes and Lords, like all the rest of the Court, had no sort of defensive armour except some coats and protection of mail, and very few even of those, whilst their offensive weapons were merely swords and daggers with a few pistols, obtained on the sudden since these disturbances commenced, whereas on the contrary the insurgents were well armed with both kinds of weapons, and were for the most part well horsed. Had not some boatmen seen the insurgents descend an eminence and follow the course of the Loire, on the banks of which this town stands, they would doubtless have caused much disorder and confusion, with very great danger of committing some serious excess; for through several channels, chiefly from the prisoners taken on the two preceding days, it was lately heard that there was a great movement of soldiers from almost all the provinces of France, who were coming in troops, assembling and adding to their numbers in these parts, and ambuscading in the neighbouring woods to await the time and order given by their chiefs. But the shouts of the boatmen having roused many persons, who took the news to the Castle, the whole Court in great haste (furia) and alarm went out immediately to encounter them, not only all the Princes, Knights of St. Michael, and gentlemen, but as many others as could mount on horseback, with such weapons as came to hand, the only persons remaining at the Court with the King and the two Queens [Mary Stuart and Catherine de' Medici] being the Cardinals de Bourbon and de Châtillon (whose two brothers the Admiral and Dandelot chanced to be here), and the two [Cardinals] de Guise and of Lorraine, with the few Bishops and gownsmen now at the Court; Monsr. [the Duke] de Guise having also mounted on horseback and gone forth in another direction, but only a short distance. When the Princes appeared, their harquebuse shots killed one or two of the others, and made them retreat and quit the suburb; whereupon, joining the rest of the troop, without much delay they all took flight towards the country and its hillocks, some here and some there; but being pursued by the Princes and their company, several of them were captured. As they were taken so were they brought to the Court, and two of them being recognised as amongst the sixty who had been pardoned on the evening before, they were instantly hanged (with two others taken the preceding day) on the battlements over the Castle gate.
During the whole of this day the Princes then went in pursuit of the others, of whom they took forty, including, besides a receiver of the revenues of the Cardinal of Lorraine [Louis de Guise] and a gentleman in waiting on little Madame Marguerite, (fn. 3) some captains of quality and persons of condition (di respetto), and amongst them one, by name Captain Masières, (fn. 4) of whom and of some others Monsr. de Guise said that knowing them to he diserect (savij) and very brave he would have confided any great undertaking to them. Of those taken today, some fifteen who retreated into a house defended themselves most obstinately, wounding many of their assailants, who surrounded it, nor would they have been taken without setting fire to the house, and one of them, rather than surrender, burned himself alive, throwing himself into the names of his own accord.
This evening towards nightfall six or seven more of them were hanged, all dying with the greatest constancy as the others did this morning, saying that for one of them who died, twenty would come in their stead; so your Serenity may comprehend the trouble and commotion in which we are.
The Duke de Guise and the other Ministers do not fail to take every precaution and keep close watch, having appointed two Princes and two Knights of St. Michael for each quarter of Amboise (della Terra), that they may be made safe, keeping sentries there, and sending forth scouts as if the town were besieged by a large army. The whole of this day they were repairing the most exposed parts of the Castle, supplying it with meal, and above all with money from the treasurers and receivers, sending also for weapons and artillery and for four hundred men-at-arms, of whom three “standards” are expected tomorrow or next day. The most useful remedy however has been the publication, and transmission for publication to all the towns and places in France, of a general pardon for all the insurgents who within twenty-four hours after its notification should return to their homes, as otherwise they would be proclaimed rebels and traitors, and licence given to all persons to slay them and inherit their property, but assuring the insurgents nevertheless, that if they wish to say anything or to present any request to his Majesty they would be heard willingly, without hurt, provided they made their appearance, as became loyal subjects.
The insurgents are said to have a great plenty of money collected amongst themselves, and to be supplied by the most powerful of the party; whatever they take is paid for generously. Each foot-soldier receives daily ten French “soldi,” which are equal to thirty of ours, and eighteen “soldi” to each trooper, the pay being distributed most liberally (larghissimamente) day by day. The prisoners confess that in all the neighbouring towns, viz., Blois, Orleans, Chartres, Chateaudun, and others, a great supply of arms had been made in secret, most especially of harquebuses, one of the men who were hanged having revealed that in one single house at Blois there were six large chests full of these. It has also been remarked that amongst the troops of the insurgents men of all nations were found, Germans, Switzers, Savoyards, Englishmen, Scots, and such like, and those made prisoners when asked who they are, reply laconically, “Soldiers and ministers of the word of God,” nor do they own to having any other chief than themselves with a general understanding [on the part] of almost all the French provinces.
This morning his Majesty, and in the evening the Duke de Guise sent to tell us Ambassadors that we were not to alarm ourselves about the present disturbances, as they were caused solely by the populace, against whom he had given such orders as would protect everybody, but that we also were not to fail taking good care of ourselves, and that he would always warn us of any impending danger.
Amboise, 17th March 1560.
March 20. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 137. Giovanni Michiel, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
During the last three days nothing has been attended to but fortifying the Castle, repairing the weakest places round it, and making in front of the principal gate, which opens on the country, a few paces of trench in which to adjust some fixed harquebuses, and three or four small pieces of artillery found accidentally, and brought hither by some barons from certain neighbouring places. Round the town, besides cutting the bridges which are at its gates, except the principal bridge over the Loire which serves as the highway, the moats have also been cleansed and restored, leaving but one gate open, and closing and securing all the others. The foot and horse guards keep very close watch, both in and out, by day and night, as in time of the greatest danger from an enemy. The Princes take the field daily with a considerable number of cavalry, from hour to hour, and proceed in any direction where any troops of insurgents have been seen or heard of, and always returning with a good many prisoners. The day before yesterday, a gentleman of quality in the service of Marshal St. André, (fn. 5) whose company consisted but of five horses, having met an equal number of the insurgents, after a long and stout fight, at length killed their commander and two of his men, and made the other two prisoners. One of this gentleman's men was killed, and he himself was so badly wounded that he died the next morning. One of those killed in battle proved to be one of the chief leaders of the insurgents, a gentleman of Angoulême, by name M. de Renaudière (Arnodiera), (fn. 6) who some years ago withdrew to Switzerland, where he changed his name, calling himself Monsieur la Foresta [de la Forest], (fn. 7) but he came to and fro, nevertheless, and showed himself occasionally at the Court. It also appears that he was closely related to the person who killed him, but, whilst fighting, they did not recognise each other, as otherwise perhaps they would have acted like many others, who separated without coming to blows ; for to the majority of the countrymen, as also to many persons of the Court, the cause of this insurrection is not in itself very displeasing (molesta), which also greatly adds to the fear of the Ministry, who know not well in whom to trust, and suspect precisely their chief intimates.
One of the two prisoners on examination confessed that he was secretary to the insurgents, and knew all their affairs. Besides many writings found in his valise, and many letters which he himself deciphered, it seems from what the Cardinal said in public this morning, and which was confirmed by the Queen-mother, that they have full information of the whole conspiracy, and know positively all its origin and means of support, and also its authors and chiefs.
The suspicion which prevailed hitherto caused great thought and extreme anxiety, but through this (discovery) and the arrival of the Count de Vilars, the Constable's brother-in-law, with upwards of one hundred cavalry, all most excellently armed and with a good number of pistols, it also being known that a strong band of men-at-arms will soon be here, the recent fears and doubts have this day greatly subsided, these having been such that your Serenity could not form the remotest idea of their extent. The disquiet and consternation have been universal, the Princes expecting hourly a furious flood of people, not only to attack, but to besiege them and their King in this Castle, which is very weak, and that they would be found unarmed and destitute. To show some sign of having taken heart, and that suspicion had subsided, his Majesty this afternoon chose to go to the heronry, one league hence, accompanied by his brother-in-law, the Duke of Lorraine, who arrived postwise, having left the Duchess on the road near Orleans, she wishing to come by water. Both of them were called by the King to keep him company for a long while this summer. The two Queens also went to a palace of the Queen-mother's, two leagues hence, but they will return this evening after supper.
The corpse of that leader of the insurgents was placed on a gibbet, and left there for two whole days, with an inscription at his feet thus, “Mons. Renaudière, alias La Forest, author (autor) of the insurrection, and leader of the insurgents.” It is also said that signal justice will soon be done, both on the Baron of Castelnau (Barone Castel Nuovo) and on the Captain Masières, they also having been chiefs and leaders of the rebels, and also on many others, a great number of them being in prison, and many of them already condemned to death.
This great commotion has delayed business of all sorts, and especially that of the English Ambassador, which is now considered of greater importance than all the rest. The day before yesterday another gentleman arrived from England in three days, in very great haste, from the French Ambassador resident there; he reports that the Queen is determined on war (and thus does the Ambassador write and send word), so as not only to unite with the Scots for the purpose of expelling the Queen Regent, and all the French now in Scotland, but also to have that kingdom in her power, and to proceed further, with the purpose of crossing into France to attempt to seize either Boulogne or Calais, not choosing to lose so great an opportunity. I understand that the said Ambassador magnifies things so much that here they do not implicity trust him, owing to the proposals made by Throckmorton in the Queen's name of coming to the agreement.
Amboise, 20th March 1560.
March 23, Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 138. Giovanni Michiel, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Here at the Court all the recent disturbances have externally subsided, and now nothing is attended to but the trial of the prisoners, of whom even to-day two were hanged and three beheaded, as the latter were gentlemen of good families. All of them were then quartered and their quarters distributed in the principal places within the town as far as possible, and outside and round it.
I said that here at the Court apparently every external sign of disquiet had ceased, leave having been given to many of these princes, such as M. d'Aumale and others, to retire from the Court; but nevertheless the Ministers internally have no want of troubled thoughts, most especially the Cardinal and the Duke de Guise, having witnessed so great and universal a commotion of the kingdom on account of religion, coupled with another no less important cause, namely, the discontent of many persons with the present Government, who without the slightest reason conspired against their persons. The Ministers therefore find it very difficult to devise remedies and measures whereby to purge and extirpate such evil humours, there having come to their notice long ago and perhaps through several channels as is credible, what reached many persons through the relation of some of our Italians, who at the commencement accompanied some Frenchmen against the insurgents, and examined some of the many prisoners made by them, putting sundry questions to them as usual Among the prisoners there were certain individuals who said openly that they were in the service of the Prince of Condé, they having been invested at Orleans with his arms and provisions, and having received four crowns each for maintenance and earnest money. These men were sent immediately to the Duke de Guise and to the Cardinal, in whose presence they made the same confession, and it has been told me that the Cardinal from inability to contain himself dashed his cap (beretta) to the ground in a rage, stamping on it several times. The inference is that the King of Navarre follows his brother Condé, it being incredible that the Prince would even have thought of such a thing, still less executed it, without that King's knowledge and participation. Besides the King of Navarre, two other princes of the blood, Montpensier and La Roche-sur-Yon, have been excluded from the Government, and are very dissatisfied; and besides these personages there may perhaps be the Admiral [Gaspar de Coligny] and his brother Andelot [François de Coligny], Conde's very near relations through his wife, both of whom are also offended, being very much inclined towards the Protestant religion; and on their account the whole family of the Constable, have been treated even worse than the others. It is considered certain that although some of these did not show themselves, perhaps because the result differed from their designs, they nevertheless had a secret understanding with the conspirators.
Your Serenity may well imagine whether these Guise lords have not cause for anxious thought and are not in great distress, not having the courage (l'animo) on the one hand to shed the blood royal, whilst the King is not of an age to do it himself, as he easily might, the said Prince of Condé being at the Court; and on the other hand they fear lest by passing it over with silence and inattention, the Princes might be rendered more daring and confident for the future; whereas to gratify them with a share in the Government would be to deprive the present Ministers of their own authority. Thus on all sides the doubts and difficulties are great, and the decision not easy, but it nevertheless appears that the Ministry tend towards dissimulation, making it appear that they neither see nor know what they do know, delaying until the King be older and able to act for himself, or might be believed to act spontaneously. In the meanwhile they are intent on defending themselves as well as they can, and I hear that with the King's permission the Cardinal will raise twelve balberdiers, or archers as they are called here, as a bodyguard to accompany him everywhere and to be always about his person.
Other prisoners are being sentenced to death daily, nor will the Queen-mother pardon any of them; several having been sent for execution to Blois, Tours, Orleans, and other places, that these acts of justice may be witnessed universally and be better known.
In the meanwhile men-at-arms make their appearance daily and are garrisoned in the neighbouring places, there being now a good number of them at Tours.
Several gentlemen of the King's household and other pensioners who were sent for when the suspicion commenced, are also arriving, but as yet no other disturbances have been heard of except at Lyons; but the insurrection being so recent the Government is not without fear, most especially with regard to Gascony and Normandy, which are more infected than the other provinces, their population being much more daring. It is already heard that at St. Malo the insurgents had maltreated and killed certain public officials, and prevented an execution, but great hopes prevail that the general pardon given by his Majesty to all the insurgents, as your Serenity may see by the accompanying printed proclamation, (fn. 8) which I had not time to have translated, will quench all this fire.
The Government have been assured by confession of the prisoners and through the writings discovered that there had been no understanding, as at first suspected, with any Sovereign (Principe) either Germany or elsewhere, except with Geneva, but there is nothing of vital importance, merely that some native Frenchmen had come here from thence of their own accord, and not by any public decree or by order of the governors of the city.
The report continues more strongly than ever of the war intended by the English, by reason of their having increased their cavalry from 3,000 to 4,000, and their infantry from 12,000 to 15,000, their fleet in like manner now consisting of forty large ships instead of thirty, though Throckmorton says otherwise, hoping that the proposals made by his Queen will be accepted. Although he urged that a reply to them should be given him here, these Ministers nevertheless would not give it to him, but to her Majesty in person, having on the day before yesterday sent a gentleman with their proposals to the Bishop of Valence [Jean de Montluc] and to the French Ambassador in England [Gilles de Noailles], that they might notify it to her. Of this Throckmorton complains, the like not having been done by his Queen, who, concerning the proposal, said to the French Ambassador precisely what he wrote, and charged him (Throckmorton) to make the announcement to the King and his ministers. On this reply the determination about the war entirely depends, and the result will very soon be known, but in the meanwhile it is kept as secret as possible.
The couriers from the Duke of Ferrara were sent chiefly to recall Don Luigi of Este to Italy, the Duke, before his departure for Rome, wishing to know whether he will become a churchman or not, having already heard to his infinite dissatisfaction, and yet more to that of the Cardinal his uncle, (fn. 9) owing to the promise received from the Pope to make him Cardinal, that he is not inclined towards such a grade, and will by no means accept it, being thus persuaded by his mother, the Duchess, (fn. 10) who promises him on his marriage to bequeath him all she possesses here, viz., the county of Gisors, the “seigneurie” of Montargis and the duchy of Chartres, which yield an annual rental of more than 30,000 francs. He intends also to obtain the patrimony of his uncle, Don Francesco, who has only one illegitimate daughter, and he hopes also to be the Cardinal's heir; so that with the emoluments received here from the King he will be amply able to live and incur expenditure like a great prince. The intention has also been announced to him and the promise given of a wealthy matrimonial alliance in the person of Madame de St. Pol, (fn. 11) widow of the brother of the King of Navarre, the Duke d'Enghien, who was killed at the rout of St. Quentin, her annual income exceeding 80,000 francs.
Don Luigi will depart in three or four days, so as to arrive at Ferrara before the Duke leaves it for Rome.
Amboise, 23rd March 1560.
[Italian; the portion in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
March 24. Copy. Venetian Archives. 139. Proclamation of Queen Elizabeth concerning Peace with France and Scotland (enclosed in Tiepolo's letter of 10th May).
Although it is evident and notorious, not only to the Queen's subjects but also to many other foreign nations in all parts of Christendom, that great occasions have of late been given and continued by the French to fear an attack from them on this kingdom, principally by way of Scotland, and that her Majesty in like manner should prepare with all speed the necessary forces to resist them by the same way of Scotland, the Queen nevertheless, considering the great diversity of opinions which might arise among people in general about this affair, has willed briefly and openly to declare and publish her determination and its just causes to the world.
In the first place the Queen of her gentle and gracious nature has been pleased to believe that the title to this kingdom injuriously pretended (injuriosamente pretenduto) in so many ways by the Queen of Scotland has not proceeded otherwise than from the ambitious desire of the principal members of the house of Guise, who had lately made themselves masters of the government of the Crown of France ; nor can her Majesty believe that either the King, who by reason of his youth, is incapable of such an enterprise, or the Queen of Scots, who is likewise very young, or the princes of the blood royal and other persons of high estate in France, to whom the government of that kingdom appertained heretofore and ought to appertain during the King's infancy, have of themselves imagined and deliberated an enterprise so unjust, unreasonable, and perilous, as any person of good and indifferent judgment can judge this to be. And the said house of Guise, considering that for their private gain there was no other way to obtain it than by increasing the greatness and exaltation of their niece the Queen of Scotland, under pretence of whom they now meddle with the government of the kingdom of France, have thus injuriously and insolently set forth (posto innauzi), and even in time of peace, in public places, have continued to appropriate the arms and titles of these realms of England and Ireland in the name of their niece, besides doing many infamous acts, as affirmed by many persons, without the knowledge of the princes of the blood royal and other great personages and sage councillors, long experienced in the affairs of that kingdom. To pursue the execution of this their unjust and ambitious resolve (deliberatione), they have availed themselves of the authority of the King and of the Queen, their niece, it being unnatural that she should seek to remove the Crown of Scotland from the hands of the native Scots; and so partly through the forces sent by them already under the aforesaid pretence, and partly [through the reinforcements] which are to be sent, they have determined to continue the attack on this kingdom of England, of which although to their great dishonour they have made their niece usurp the title, they still know that in no other way than through Scotland would they ever be able to accomplish the evident mischief they desire.
Her Majesty, therefore, having experienced in many calamities the singular goodness of God, and knowing the good right of her cause, and the natural obedience and love of her faithful subjects, and that these insolent enterprises proceed solely from the sinister comportment of the Guise family during the infancy of the King and Queen, without obtaining in any way the consent of the princes of the blood and of other great lords and states of France; and the Queen of her own nature and inclination having no other greater desire than to continue and preserve the peace with all Christian princes (most especially at this time of the occurrence of such unusual and difficult operations), especially with France and Scotland and all their subjects; makes known to all persons in general that although she has been compelled at her great cost to assemble forces both by sea and land for the security of her kingdom, having been challenged in this manner by words and by a false title, being moreover provoked by the vicinity of the French soldiers, and by the threats of their being reinforced from day to day, nevertheless she does not intend on this account to wage war or to do any act of cruelty, but seeks and endeavours solely, having many times openly and amicably requested the Cardinal of Lorraine and his brother, and also through their means the King of France, that these titles and too insolent pretensions (querelle) should be withdrawn and revoked, and that they should agree with the people of Scotland on a suitable and natural form of government, not departing from the due obedience to their Sovereign (Signore), as they themselves offer, so that they may no longer have to fear oppression and conquest; and consequently that the French soldiers in Scotland should be recalled, making compensation (stando a ragione) for their former attacks on this kingdom, it being too perilous to have them for so long a period so near England. That their recall may proceed more speedily, it has been offered to give them safe conduct both by water and by land for their departure with all the favour and security that they could desire, and that according to the diminution of their forces those of the Queen by land and sea should be simultaneously reduced. Thus all cause for displeasure would remain buried in oblivion and a firm and sincere peace be established. But to these demands, so conformable to equity, reason, and honour, though frequently made by her Majesty, she can by no means obtain a sufficient reply, although much time has been employed to her very great cost and the evident ruin of the peace and friendship. Finally, her Majesty makes known to all that she continues and will continue to remain at peace with the realms of France and Scotland, so long as no manifest invasion be made upon her dominions or people, and that she will procure by all good means that a union and good agreement may take place in Scotland, and that the French soldiers who arc dissatisfied with it, may depart without harm and in security; but if they refuse to do so after all these good means have been employed, and after so many delays made on the part of France, they must necessarily then be made to retreat, without using any further violence whatever against persons either of France or of Scotland.
Her Majesty therefore commands and strictly enjoins all her subjects, of whatever condition they may be, to show all favour and friendship to all the subjects of the King, and to let them trade in all sorts of merchandise, as has been customary in the time of the best peace, and ought to be allowed, unless, however, the Queen's subjects be hostilely compelled to defend themselves or their country; and all her Majesty's subjects will in their discourse speak well and decorously of France and the French nation, and notwithstanding all these great injuries done lately to the Crown of England as aforesaid, the said subjects will not judge otherwise than is believed and judged by the Queen in person from her good inclination. Nor will they make other preparations of war than such as may serve for defence against such injuries and enterprises as shall be made and directed against this kingdom (contrary to what her Majesty desires and expects) at the instigation of the said house of Guise, who now have in their hands the entire government of the King and Queen, until it be seen whether the said kingdom and people of France intend any longer to invade this country, and also whether her Majesty's present good opinion be not well received. Although this would greatly disturb and displease the Queen, by reason of the hindrance and delay of the general peace of all Christendom, which she desires above all things, it is not yet to be doubted but that the Almighty will aid and assist the forces of this realm to guard it against all dangers, and honourably to revenge the injuries done, as the case requires.
For the better understanding of all persons her Majesty has willed this to be expressly proclaimed in English and French (S. M. ha voluto espressamente farlo publicare in Francese et Inglese) (fn. 12) as although she had made a particular declaration of the same to the King of France, and to the said Lords de Guise, as also to the Queen Dowager of Scotland, and to all the French Ambassadors in these parts, she has as yet been unable to obtain a sufficient reply, and her Majesty desires that it may not be hidden from them lest they be induced to believe what is contrary to the truth (che potessero esser indotti a credere delle cose altramente che la verità non è).
Given at Westminster on the 24th of March, in the second year of her reign.
March 25. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 140. Paulo Tiepolo, Venetian Ambassador with King Philip, to the Doge and Senate.
I write certain events in France in the way in which I heard them from his most Christian Majesty's Ambassador resident at this Court, where most especially these Frenchmen endeavour to render the name of the Queen of England odious.
From the city of Geneva, the chief seat and abode of those who have alienated themselves from the Catholic religion, many persons are accustomed to go forth into divers parts of Christendom to preach their doctrine. In France, for a long while, forty of the ministers from Geneva have remained permanently, and dividing the country amongst themselves by virtue of their assumed authority they had the daring to usurp the title of bishops, and as such they were acknowledged amongst themselves and by their followers, being favoured and assisted by some of the chief personages in France whose faith had been already corrupted. Above the rest was M. de Châtellerault, otherwise the Earl of Arran, who not so much from religious zeal, as from being dissatisfied with King Henry, and to spite him, had fallen into Lutheranism. He had persuaded himself that the Queen of Scotland was to be no one else's wife, but his (non dovesse esser moglie d'altri che di lui), as he is one of the principal personages of that kingdom and nearest to the Crown; and when he saw her married to the King-Dauphin (fn. 13) he was in despair and rabid, most especially as King Henry made no demonstration towards him, whereby he might have been appeased. From that time forth he has always favoured these preachers, and negotiated also about this matter of religion with the present Queen of England, writing to her often, and receiving frequent letters from her. To this must be added that there were then in France some three thousand Scots, part seeking pay as soldiers, part for trade and other business, who, being for the most part tainted in religion from the vicinity and commerce of Scotland with England, corrupted and ruined their associates; the like effect being produced by the German soldiery who were engaged as soldiers in France for the war. The French universities also are much infected with these new opinions, and learned men, going forth from them constantly to their own homes, where they had credit and authority, easily obtained converts to their doctrine, which, owing to all these circumstances, has been so disseminated that a very small part of France remained true to the ancient Catholic religion. King Henry, therefore, knowing the malady of his country, and that there was need for great exertion (opera) to cure it, resolved to put every other thought aside. To attend to this he concluded the peace, and commenced operations, by causing the arrest of the President and several Councillors of the Parliament of Paris, and he intended to continue very stoutly in the same course, until he had brought back the country to its former health and purity, had not his death intervened.
During this interval, immediately on the conclusion of peace, M. de Châtellerault, having discovered the King's mind, fled to England, and almost all the Scots likewise returned to Scotland, where they subsequently caused the insurrections, of which M. de Châtellerault made himself the head, with the connivance (intelligentia) and assistance of the Queen of England, who not only keeps him in hope of her being his wife, but also gives him great strength and courage by sending on the one hand a number of armed ships, and on the other an army of 10,000 men under the Duke of Norfolk and Earl Grey to the Scottish borders, so that although she does not openly declare herself hostile, her forces support the rebels.
The Queen is by nature high spirited (di alto spirito), and has become yet more so owing to her good fortune and to the many physical and moral endowments which she possesses (et dalli molti beni cost del corpo come dell' animo che ella possiede); so she has lofty designs, and promises herself success in all of them. She has many suitors for her hand, and by protracting any decision keeps them all in hope, persuading herself that in her need they will do what they can from rivalry to gain her love and matrimonial alliance.
With this belief, shortly after her accession to the throne, she proposed to make a league with the Kings of Denmark and Sweden, with the Princes and cities of Germany, the Switzers, and all the States who have alienated themselves from the Catholic Church, not only for the defence of their religion, but for its propagation by means of this league, and not so much for the security of her own affairs as to cause trouble and detriment to the Crown of France.
To dispose men's minds to this effect she sent four English preachers, four Germans, and one Frenchman from England to Germany; who, feigning to be moved by religious zeal and ardour, went to visit many cities and princes (principi), sometimes themselves preaching what they thought might most facilitate their object, and sometimes making the local preachers perform the like office ; nor was it very difficult to persuade the greater part of them to do what was desired. But certain princes and cities, most especially the Palatine, who has a close friendship with the most Christian King, and some of the maritime towns, who have an ancient confederacy with the Crown of France hearing it might concern the interests of that realm, would by no means assent to these proceedings.
Whilst these things were being done in Germany, a Scot and a Frenchman crossed into Scotland from England (sic), and then from England to Paris, where they summoned to a conference, by letter, all the above-mentioned forty preachers, who are maintained in France by the congregation of Geneva, and with some other delegates who were sent from Geneva they assembled together at a place one mile from Paris, where they held what they call their council. There it was announced that the league had been already concluded, and that therefore to them, the ministers and bishops of France, it appertained to do their part in favour and assistance of the said league. All showing themselves ready to do what they could, they carefully calculated how many confidential disciples had been made, from whom, under any circumstances, they could obtain whatever was wished, and they said they could dispose of from 25,000 to 30,000 men. It was therefore settled that each individual departing from his home (dal loco suo) at a certain time, they with their armed followers were all to be on the 16th March (fn. 14) at the King's Court, where first of all they were to kill the Cardinal of Lorraine and M. de Guise, the chief persecutors of their doctrine, they adducing a declaration of Calvin, that it was lawful to slay those who hindered the preaching of the Gospel and of truth, because this was not an offence but a defence, and acknowledged by all laws (perche qucsta non era offesa, ma defesa, da tutte le leggi conceduta). They then determined to kill the King also if he should not assent to their counsels, to expel the Queen-mother, to give preceptors to the King's three brothers, and to his sister, to educate them in their own fashion, to withdraw entirely the obedience to the Pope throughout France, and to send two persons to preach the new doctrine in every city, registering their names and those of the places to which they were appointed. In conclusion they gave orders for certain rich churches to be pillaged (spogliate) by the conspirators on their way to the Court, so that a considerable sum might be amassed. All these resolutions they entered in a book, which is now in the hands of the judicial authorities (pervenuto poi in mano della giustitia), together with many other writings and innumerable letters.
The first person who gave the King some notice of this was a French nobleman [Pierre Avenelles], who gave information that in the house of another nobleman, his neighbour, many troops were mustered, and that they talked of insurrection and of an army, but as the former nobleman was at enmity with the latter he was not credited. Then came letters to the King from the Duchess of Parma, Governess of the Low Countries, warning him more clearly of facts which the Bishop of Arras had communicated to her, recommending that she should impart it to King Francis both to oblige him and also to save those provinces from similar danger, which they doubtless would have incurred had the movements in France taken effect. This advice rendering the King more anxious about his situation, he ordered all the cavalry in France to be on the watch to attack the rebels, and two days after the receipt of these letters it chanced that the Frenchman who had summoned to the council near Paris (fn. 15) the forty preachers in France appointed by the congregation of Geneva, was imprisoned on a charge of heresy, and being unable to resist torture, confessed several things, offering, were his life spared him, to reveal more important matters ; and he then revealed the whole of this conspiracy. His associate, the Scot, was also taken, and made a similar confession ; and many other persons were in like manner imprisoned, and the before-mentioned book, writings, and letters were found. So this has been the greatest conspiracy of which there is any record, for there was knowledge of it in England, Scotland, Germany, and almost all over Christendom. The conspirators, seeing themselves discovered, renounced the undertaking, and the only stir made in all France was at Bordeaux, where at the appointed time the population rose, and the King of Navarre was ordered to go against them.
Thus did I hear this event narrated by the French Ambassador (fn. 16) who in all his communications endeavours to represent the Queen of England as of a very restless mind, and that by means of religion she attempted to harass foreign States; accusing her, most especially to King Philip, of having been the principal cause of the disturbances in Scotland by constantly negotiating with the insurgents, and through the encouragement which she afforded them not only by counsel and promises but with troops and considerable forces, which she keeps near Scotland with the design of at length making herself mistress of that kingdom if she can. The Ambassador remarked to his Majesty how dangerous this mode of proceeding might be not only to France, but also to him, as he holds the Low Countries, which are very much corrupted with all these new heresies. By this office he so exasperated the King against Queen Elizabeth that, as the Ambassador himself told me, his Majesty assured him that unless she ceased to act thus, he would wage war upon her.
Lord Montagu (fn. 17) and Sir Thomas Chamberlain have now arrived as her Ambassadors, not only to justify their Queen's actions, but to accuse the French of being very ambitious, and of having a design to usurp the States of others.
On the day of their arrival (fn. 18) these Ambassadors wished to speak to the King, fearing lest the representations of their adversaries should, confirm his Majesty's bad impression, so that with difficulty would they be able to remove it. On this account, therefore, they regretted the King's absence from Toledo during the last ten days for his pleasures, suspecting that he had gone abroad purposely to consult about this matter more quietly, he having been accompanied by the chief councillors of state. By what I could elicit from their conversation they deny that the Queen of England ever had or has any negotiation with the Scots which can in any way be prejudicial to France or to any other Power; and they say that if she armed she did what ought to be done by any sage potentate, especially as the French had in many ways given her just cause for suspicion, so that her forces were raised in self defence, and not for aggressive purposes. That she had persuaded herself that the peace [of Cateau Cambresis] concluded with the French was so durable that in no way could there be any doubt of it, but contrary to all her opinions she found the French full of designs and machinations against many [crowned heads'], and most especially against herself; and to no other end than this could the breach of the agreement concluded at Cambresis tend, about razing certain fortresses built by them in Scotland on the frontiers of England, because they were in the hands of the French, vain being the excuse that the Scots do not choose them to be destroyed; nor to any other end does the war waged by them also on the Scots without any reason tend, titan this, that after rendering themselves absolute masters and tyrants of that kingdom, and holding all the. fortresses, and the nobility being expelled,, they may the more, effectually assail the English. That for many centuries the kingdom of Scotland has had her own native King, nor did the Scots expect their King ever to be a foreigner; and as the King of France chose to marry their Queen, her Majesty of England thought that he should at least observe the national privileges and the conventions made with him, and be content with having that power and authority in the kingdom which had been exercised by his predecessors ; but that the French, despising all compacts, appropriating to themselves the fortresses (usurpandosi le fortezze), which, contrary to the agreements, they insist on garrisoning with foreign troops, and doing daily a thousand things prejudicial to that kingdoms liberty, have but too clearly demonstrated their intention by right or wrong of annexing it to the Crown of France, which cannot be tolerated by the Scots, who wish to be secure that in case the Queen of Scotland die childless, the kingdom shall pass to him to whom it by right belongs, according to the declaration made in the Parliament of Scotland. This is what irritates the French, and not religion, of which alone they make mention. As therefore the French write that they are content with what is just and fair, peace is made with the Scots, who desire nothing else; but if the French, contrary to all right, design making themselves masters of that kingdom, of which they have already usurped a good part, King Philip ought very well to bear in mind, should their project succeed, how much they would increase their power (forze) by opening the road to assail England at their pleasure and with very great advantage, and that if his Catholic Majesty is now at peace with France and connected with her Crown by relationship, a time may soon come when he will be at war with the French, as no ties of blood and friendship are sufficiently strong not to be easily severed by ambition; so that any increase of power and boldness acquired by the French would be of serious prejudice and detriment to his States, to which they aspire no less than to what belongs to others.
The King returned on Saturday evening to be present at the cane game, which was to have been performed to day, his Majesty taking part in it, but yesterday he was seized with fever, and although they bled him this morning, it has nevertheless not ceased entirely.
Toledo, 25th March 1560.
[Italian; the portion in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]


  • 1. Castle of Noysay, three English miles from Amboise. (See Foreign Calendar, 1560. March 21, note, p. 462.)
  • 2. See Foreign Calendar, 1559–1560, Index.
  • 3. The youngest sister of Francis II.
  • 4. See also Père Daniel, vol. 10, p. 53, where the name is Masere, and Mémoires de Michel de Castelnau, vol. 1, p. 388, where it is Mazeres.
  • 5. The name of this gentleman was the Sieur de Pardaillan. (See Père Daniel, vol. 10, p. 53.)
  • 6. See Foreign Calendar, 1559–1560, p. 463. In Pere Daniel he is called Jean du Barri, Seigneur de la Renaudie.
  • 7. See Père Daniel, vol. 10, p. 47.
  • 8. Not found.
  • 9. This uncle was Ippolito II. of Este, the nephew of Ariosto's patron, Ippolito I. Don Luigi accepted the red hat from Pius IV. on the 26th February 1561.
  • 10. Rénée, daughter of Louis XII. and Anne of Britany, married Hercules II., Duke of Ferrara, at Paris on the 28th June 1528. She became a Protestant.
  • 11. Adrienne, Duchess d'Estouteville. See the late Sir W. Hackett's Index to Foreign Calendar, “Mary,” p. 450.
  • 12. As the proclamation translated above differs from the one printed in Foreign Calendar (1559–1560, pp. 472 and 473), I infer that the translation made at Toledo was from the French version, and that it did not precisely agree with the English one. (R.B.)
  • 13. By a despatch dated Paris, 25th April 1558, addressed to the Doge and Senate by Giovanni Michiel, it has been shown that the marriage was consummated 24th April 1558.
  • 14. By the despatches of Giovanni Michiel, Venetian Ambassador in France, it is seen that from the 3rd to the 3lst March 1560 the Court was at Amboise. Michiel's despatches from January to the end of February have not been found, so I am unable to ascertain when the Court left Blois for Amboise, as recorded by Père Daniel, vol. 10, p. 50; but neither on the 3rd March, nor on the 16th, was it at Blois, so this last date in the Tiepolo narrative is possibly a mistake for 16th February 1560. (R.B.)
  • 15. At Passy?
  • 16. See Lord Hardwicke's State Papers (London, 1778), vol. 1, p. 147, where it is stated that this French Ambassador was Sebastien de l'Aubespine, Bishop of Limoges.
  • 17. Anthony Brown, Viscount Montagu.
  • 18. By a letter from the Queen to the English Ambassadors in Spain, date 18th April 1560, it may he inferred that they arrived at Toledo on the 13th March. (See Foreign Calendar, entry 1020, p. 551.)