Venice: April 1560, 1-15

Pages 182-189

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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April 1560, 1–15

April 4. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 146. Giovanni Michiel, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Prince of Condé, being greatly disquieted by the arrest of his Master of the Horse, besides the offices performed by him separately with the Queen-mother in the Council of Affairs, into which he was called several times by the most Christian King to justify himself with the other members of the Council, on the day before yesterday at Chenonceau, where the greater part of the Court now is, made another protest in public in the presence of his Majesty and of as many Princes and Knights of St. Michael and gentlemen as were there. After asking the King's leave to speak, having caused all the persons in the hall to approach, he said aloud that it had come to his ears that he had been accused of being not only privy to the conspiracy, but also its accomplice and author, and that there was no occasion to speak against those already dead, if from them the accusations proceeded, it being fit for him to turn to persons living and present, though he knew not towards whom in particular, as he was hitherto unconscious of any person who could have performed such an office. Being therefore compelled to speak in general terms, he gave his Majesty to understand, and all the others in like manner, that if any one was there present who had made such a charge, he had lied; and, excepting the persons of his most Christian Majesty and his brothers, with whom he had justified himself sufficiently elsewhere, he offered to absolve himself by the sword, and to make it good in person, and that in this matter his rank of Prince and noble of the blood royal was not to be available for any exception, as he placed himself on a level and equality with any person soever, like the most obscure individual and a mere soldier. He added some other words about his affection and fidelity to the King and his brothers, and about his own life and actions, speaking very haughtily (assai altamente).
The Duke de Guise then commenced speaking in his favour, confirming what the Prince had said, attesting to his Majesty that previously and elsewhere the said Prince had spoken in the same way, making the like offer, and that being who he was, and living as he lived, such suspicion of him was untenable, praising him in a very becoming manner. Although the King uttered a few words in reply, he spoke so low, as is his wont, that with great difficulty were they heard by any one but the Prince, though it is known that they were uttered in his praise and favour. It is believed that this proceeding took place thus in public purposely and by agreement, to check the current rumour against the said Prince, and thus consign the affair to silence, he, by reason of the dependencies and respects attached to him, not being a person to arraign so freely and securely as might be done against others. It was remarked by many persons present that during this conversation the Cardinal of Lorraine, who was behind the King's chair, kept his eyes most sternly fixed on the ground in sorrow, without ever raising them, nor did he make any sign of assent to or satisfaction with what was said.
In the meanwhile the Prince's Master of the Horse, being accused of having lent one of the Prince's horses to M. de Maligni that he might make his escape, is still in prison. This Maligni is a gentleman of very noble lineage, and most closely related to the Guise family, being also standard-bearer in the Prince's company of men-at-arms, and a chief of the conspirators. Some days previously he was here at the Court awaiting his accomplices to execute their intention, but, seeing that the plot was discovered, he made his escape on the day of the capture of the other two chiefs, and of the Baron de Castelnau and Captain Masières, whom he met when riding away, as they (Castelnau and Masières) were being brought prisoners tightly bound, and it is said that he is now safe in England. It appears from this and much other evidence that the Prince of Condé was gravely implicated, whilst on the contrary, from the examinations and depositions of the persons executed, and of all the other prisoners (as told me by a trustworthy person who saw the original evidence), the Prince's brother, the King of Navarre, is remote (lontano) from all suspicion, as not only did no one accuse him, but the chiefs themselves exculpated him, which afforded very great and universal comfort.
As soon as the King of Navarre heard of the disturbance here at the Court he despatched his chief secretary, postwise, to tell his most Christian Majesty that from one hour to another he should have 5,000 armed men at his disposal, ready to march wheresoever his Majesty commanded.
Concerning the insurrections in Normandy, most especially those which occurred at Rouen, his most Christian Majesty was appeased immediately on being informed that the burghers of the city favoured to their utmost the royal officials and ministers by capturing the ringleaders of the insurrection, namely, two preachers, who to stimulate the people to greater license openly inculcated the heresy of the Anabaptists as to community of women and property, and on their being taken and burnt the whole uproar immediately ceased; but to quiet not only that city but the whole province, the King has appointed Marshal de Termes with royal authority, and full and absolute power, summarily to confiscate, imprison, condemn, and put to death whomsoever he pleases, availing himself, if necessary, of the forces and assistance of the neighbouring provinces of Picardy, (? Isle of) France, and others, to keep it in greater subjection.
For the same purpose of quelling insurrection in Provence and Dauphigné, where it still increases, the insurgents having commenced stripping the churches, mutilating the images, and perpetrating other insolent acts, the King is sending thither with the same and greater authority Marshal de Brissac, replacing him in Piedmont by M. de Bourdillon, (fn. 1) that the said Marshal by his presence, and with such men-at-arms and militiamen (et legionarii) as he can muster in those provinces, may restore them to quiet and quell disturbance.
His Majesty on the one hand rejoices greatly, because in the midst of this universal commotion not only contrary to all expectation did the city of Paris make no stir of any sort, remaining perfectly quiet, but also sent to offer him a good sum of money with which to quell insurrection elsewhere. By the King's order the Constable went to Paris, and with his son, the Marshal, (fn. 2) who has the government of the Isle of France, to make more sure of it: they went every day to the Parliament House, and, with the presidents and other royal officials and ministers, attended the necessary consultations. On the other hand by so much the more does his Majesty complain of these neighbouring towns, especially Blois and Orleans, for having been the meeting places of the conspirators, who were encouraged by clandestine supplies of arms and other stores provided there; which cities, as said by the Cardinal of Lorraine, will soon be severely punished as a warning to the others.
With regard to the remedies on account of religion, it is still positively asserted that a synod and congregation will be held of the three estates, namely, the clergy, nobility, and commons, to see if some form (forma; qu. reform) can be devised with the participation and consent of the whole kingdom, but not to alter or to make any innovation, which appertains solely to the Church universal. A council general is also to be held for the mere execution of what shall be decreed and approved by the said Church [of France]. In this [synod] his Majesty also desires and requests the authority and presence of an Apostolic Legate, but is averse to his being a foreigner, lest he have cause to exercise the usual powers of Legates, which are so odious to this kingdom, and he would wish for a Frenchman, making a special demand for Cardinal Tournon, he being sage and intelligent, having also much experience of the affairs of France, and of her wants at the present time, and having been sent for many months ago; so he is very anxiously expected, that he may take part in this government.
Amboise, 4th April 1560.
April 6. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 147. Giovanni Michiel, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
A courier arrived to-day from England, despatched by the French Ambassador there [Gilles de Noailles], bringing letters also to the English Ambassador here [Sir Nicholas Throckmorton], who tells me they are dated 29th March, and that on the 26th the Bishop of Valence [Jean de Montluc] had audience of the Queen, to whom he said that the most Christian King would grant her all that had been requested and proposed here in her name by her Ambassador, and that his Majesty would give her yet greater proof of his good will on the Bishop's return from Scotland, whither he had appointed him, requesting a guide and passport for the journey, that he might make it in safety. Although the Queen perceived from this statement that his mission had another object in view, viz., to try and effect some agreement with the Scots to their liking, to the exclusion of the English, of which the Queen had little fear, having made sure that the Scots cannot come to terms with France without her consent and without reimbursing her for the cost of the fleet and army mustered for their service, to which effect she had in her power as hostages six of the chief and most powerful Scottish Barons; nevertheless it did not seem fit to her to refuse the Bishop of Valence the guide and passport; but on the other hand she sent an express to the frontier to desire Lord Grey to march immediately from Berwick with 1,500 horse and 8,000 infantry under Little Leith (Petilit) and join the Scots, leaving the Duke of Norfolk in Berwick with the rest of the army. Throckmorton is of opinion that war is not only determined on (resoluta), but seems to have already broken out and commenced (rotta et aperta).
This courier brought Throckmorton the copy of a proclamation issued by the Queen, as your Serenity will see by the enclosed. (fn. 3) Throckmorton moreover told me that the Earl of Arran, having anticipated the publication of a report here in France of his having written and sent to ask for pardon, and resenting the charge as a gross falsehood and very remote from his meaning, challenged the French Ambassador in England [Gilles de Noailles], considering him a public functionary, giving him the lie in this respect, and so indirectly to these Guise lords, whom he (Arran) suspected of spreading that report, he not knowing in what other way to act.
All these things, though most vexatious and full of indignity, will be dissembled under pretence of their not being perceived, as told me by a person who has the means of knowing much, the object being very evident, that is, for the sake of not commencing either offensive or defensive war, unless compelled to do so, their means here being small, nor are they anywise inclined that way, relying much on the mission to England of M. de Glajon, who was sent by the King Catholic to mediate the agreement.
During the last two days the Court has been much troubled by news of the serious illness of Madame de Savoye, the first advices having announced that her life was despaired of, and though an express arrived with news of her improvement since yesterday, the Queen-mother has sent to her one of her chief physicians in all haste.
Amboise, 6th April 1560.
April 7. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 148. Paulo Tiepolo, Venetian Ambassador with King Philip, to the Doge and Senate.
The King having recovered, on hearing that the grandees intended to leave the Court, and not to return for a long while, in order that the preparations for the cane game might not have been made in vain, determined on its performance last Tuesday, when it succeeded admirably; as besides the entertainment of the bull bait, which lasted some time, the beasts being very brave and ferocious, there were a hundred cavaliers who made their appearance most superbly and richly clad in the Moorish fashion, divided into divers companies, each of which had a different livery from the others; they being accompanied by running footmen, trumpeters, and drummers, all likewise in livery. Keeping admirable order they showed great skill and address, the Spanish nation excelling in this sort of game [the cane game], they being well practised in it and having horses admirably adapted for this service.
The King, although not very strong, chose also to be amongst the cavaliers and led a squadron, and played his part very well and gracefully, although the Queen sent to beg him todepart a little before the entertainment ended, together with Do Ruy Gomez, who is not yet cured of his quartan ague. Then at night there was a ball in the Palace. Subsequently for three days his Majesty transacted business, and now will go out of the town for Passion week; the Queen also going to another place.
The Bishop of Terracina, the Nuncio sent by the Pope, has been very graciously received by his Majesty and by the whole Court, especially because he has brought the “Cruzada” for three years, which bull will yield the King about 900,000 crowns, nor would the late Pope ever consent to it. This Nuncio will have no further difficulty in exercising his powers, for he gave the King to understand in the Pope's name that he was come principally as an Ambassador, and would not use any power unless his Majesty deemed it necessary for the benefit of this province; so as a lesser evil the King thought it well to refer everything to his discretion, rather than to deprive all these realms of the advantage obtained by means of the Nuncio.
The Count of Tendiglia has left for his legation; the Signor Montesa remaining here, a proof that the terms on which he intended to go to Rome were refused. Nothing whatever has been settled about Vargas, except that in the ceremony of tendering obedience to the Pope the Count of Tendiglia is to keep so far apart from him as to give it to be understood that he is not this King's Ambassador.
The day after I wrote my despatch of the 30th ultimo to your Serenity, the English Ambassadors had audience, and are much satisfied both with the honour received from the noblemen sent by the King to accompany them, as also with the gracious audience and reply of his Majesty, who evinced regret for all the difficulties that had occurred; saying that he had sent M. de Glajon (fn. 4) to their Queen, and that he thought of sending another envoy to France, to adjust everything.
Sant' Ojos, the King's very favourite Chamberlain, who had been banished the Court, as written by me in a former despatch, (fn. 5) has obtained his pardon and returned into favour as before; and Don Ruy Gomez, now called Prince of Eboli, is in as great repute and power with the King as ever.
When the stir in France was first heard of, its object being yet unknown, the King Catholic, having advices that on the frontiers of Navarre the people were in arms, put a strong force of infantry into Pamplona and other border places, but they were subsequently disbanded.
Thirty-eight horses and as many mares have been brought hither for the King of Bohemia, part of them being a present from his Catholic Majesty, and part purchased by a person whom the King of Bohemia sent into Spain for that purpose, and they are to depart to-morrow or next day. Martin Guzman, heretofore the Emperor's great Chamberlain, will come hither as his Ambassador to King Philip in lieu of Baron Polvilliers, who is to depart in a month or two.
When the Nuncio presented the bull of the “Cruzada,” he told the King that the Pope sent him this present that he might use it for the benefit of Christendom against the Infidels, and that his Holiness prays him to relieve Italy in some part from the heavy burdens borne by her.
Toledo, 7 April 1560.
[Italian; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
April 13. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 149. Giovanni Michiel, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
During the whole of this Passion week nothing has been attended to but the sermons of the Cardinal of Lorraine, which gathered very great congregations, not only to his praise, but to the universal astonishment and admiration, both on account of his doctrines, and by reason of his very fine gesticulation, and incomparable eloquence and mode of utterance. He preached publicly all these days in the presence of the King, of the Queens, and of all the other Princes and Lords of the Court, in the church of one of his abbacies, called Marmoutier, in the suburbs of Tours, whither his Majesty withdrew to keep Easter; for which reason every sort of business was at an end.
Notwithstanding these sermons, and other good works of the Cardinal, those who abhor him on account of religion and for other causes did not fail to defame him by libels and writings placarded publicly in several places in Paris, where they were seen and read by every one who wished.
After the last advices from England his most Christian Majesty determined to despatch a gentleman express to the King Catholic to let him know that he was compelled by necessity to break with that Queen, as the good offices which he sent to perform with her had borne no sort of fruit, and she had already made the rupture almost openly, her troops having penetrated so far into Scotland. But having subsequently heard of the arrival in England of King Philip's envoy M. de Glajon, and that he had spoken and negotiated with the Queen, who showed herself much more subdued and pleasant than she was with the Bishop of Valence, his most Christian Majesty therefore dispensed with sending a gentleman express to the King Catholic, and despatched a courier instead, whose return he is expecting daily, when he will send a personage to Spain to treat the agreement, of which he has great hope since so great and respected a prince is negotiating for both realms.
The Ambassador of the King of Algiers has been presented with robes and money in return for horses given to his Majesty, and was dismissed with fair words, being told that his most Christian Majesty would re-confirm the friendship his father had with his King without deviating from the articles of peace between France and the King of Spain; and the Ambassador having made a request for some artillery powder and ball, it was conceded him, orders having been sent to Marseilles to comply with his request secretly, to avoid causing suspicion and jealousy to the Spanish Ministry.
On Thursday next, the 18th instant, his most Christian Majesty will make his public entry into Tours, and after remaining three or four clays there will return to the seat (luogo) of the Queen-mother, two leagues hence [Chenonceau], she being expected there the day after to-morrow.
Amboise, 13th April 1560.
April 15, Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 150. Paulo Tiepolo, Venetian Ambassador with King Philip, to the Doge and Senate.
The King passed Passion week at Calatrava, and is not expected to return for some days, as he avoids business as much as possible.
In order to secure the maintenance of the peace with France King Philip purposes sending thither the same person (fn. 6) who was heretofore imprisoned at Rome by Paul IV., and he is to depart this day. After performance of that office with his most Christian Majesty he will cross to England, should he think it possible to obtain any good result there. I am told that in the name of the King Catholic he will offer the most Christian King assistance to curb his subjects, who are understood to be still restless on account of religion.
The Duke of Sessa remains at Milan owing to the illness of the Duke of Savoy, in the event of whose death he demands instructions.
A French gentleman has been sent by the most Christian King to the King of Portugal to offer him his sister in marriage, but the English Ambassadors suspect him of negotiating for some of the Portuguese vessels employed for the Indian voyage, to make use of them against England.
Before the King went to Calatrava he conferred the archbishopric of Taranto upon Marc' Antonio Colonna, son of the late Camillo; and at the Pope's request his Majesty is content that his Holiness should confer the bishopric of Cassano, but requests that it may be given to a Neapolitan, the King being bound by oath thus to do; or that otherwise that the Pope absolve the King from his oath. I understand that the Pope intended to give this bishopric to the Cardinal of Pisa [Scipione Rebiba] in exchange for the arch-bishopric of Pisa, about which the Duke of Florence pretends that he was wronged by Pope Paul IV., and demands his right.
Toledo, 15th April 1560.
[Italian; the portion in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]


  • 1. Imbert de la Platière, Seigneur de Bourdillon. (See the late Sir Wm. Hackett's Index to Foreign Calendar, “Mary,” p.443.)
  • 2. Henri de Montmorency, Baron de Damville, Maréchal of France. (See the late Sir Wm. Hackett's Index to Foreign Calendar, “Mary,” p. 438.) In the text of that Calendar p 263, it is stated that Maréchal Montmorency was Governor of Paris and the Isle of France.
  • 3. Not found. See under date of 24th March for another copy, enclosed in one of Tiepolo's despatches.
  • 4. The name of this Master of the Ordnance was Philip d'Estade, Seigneur de Glajon, See Foreign Calendar, 1559, 1560, Index, p. 622.
  • 5. Dated Toledo, 22nd December 1559.
  • 6. Don Garcilasso de la Vega.