Venice: February 1559

Pages 24-41

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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February 1559

Feb. 1. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 16. Paulo Tiepolo, Venetian Ambassador with Bang Philip, to the Doge and Senate.
These Lords will depart to-morrow to attend the Conference, and here this hope of peace has again revived, as also that of this Kings marriage to the Queen of England; some persons believe that both one thing and the other are already certain, and that they cannot fail to take place. It is divulged through the Court that Calais will no longer be any cause of impediment to the conclusion of the peace and although all persons say this must be kept secret lest it reach the ears of the French, with whom the Spaniards wish to make the best terms they can, yet nevertheless almost everybody discusses the topic freely, so the only thing which seemed to present a difficulty at the conference of Cevcamp being removed, it is thought that the agreement will easily be made.
The Spaniards greatly desire peace, and if the French are of the same mind and do not depart from what seemed already settled, peace may be considered concluded.
Concerning the marriage, it is said to be referred to the will of King Philip, and that the Queen has given it clearly to be understood that she is content to have him for her husband, which is also desired and solicited by the chief personages of the kingdom, as by those who anticipate advantage from it through some considerable pecuniary gift, such as his Majesty gave them in Wee manner in the time of the. other Queen. But on the other hand there is the inclination of the Queen to a religion opposed to Catholicism, and of the many particulars heard by me in illustration of this fact I am now able to mention one which very well illustrates the Queen's mind, viz., that at the mass which she heard on the day of her coronation she did not wish the host to be elevated, as usual. She had also attempted this change when she made her entry into London after her sisters death, for she sent to tell a bishop, who was saying mass, that he was not to elevate the host, but the good prelate answered that he could not act contrary to his conscience and to the custom of the Church; so he elevated the host, and celebrated according to his duty; but now, at her coronation, she had the mass celebrated in her own way (la fece far a modo suo). Notwithstanding this, the rumour here is that she will consent to take King Philip for her husband, though with regard to the three conditions required by him of her and of the kingdom, and especially that of his being crowned, I do not understand that anything has as yet been said or agreed to. But one matter greatly troubles the King and his chief ministers, namely, the doubt of being able to obtain the dispensation at Rome, for although Cardinal Pacheco writes that the Pope, when talking about the affairs of England, confirmed to him that King Philip might greatly benefit the Catholic religion there, the Spanish ministry nevertheless anticipate so much enmity on the part of the Pope that they believe he would never of his own will do anything that could redound to the repute and advantage of Spain. They have therefore contrived to find a way to compel the Pope not. to refuse the dispensation, viz., that his Holiness should be moved to urge the King that for the salvation of the souls of that kingdom and for the benefit of the Church he should endeavour to marry the Queen. With this object they have written to Cardinal Pacheco and others to represent to his Holiness that the King is not at all inclined to this marriage, and that it is necessary that the Pope should inflame and incite him with his authority, making his Majesty see clearly that if this marriage do not take place, the Catholic religion in England is to be despaired of. The King's confessor has also written to his Holiness on this subject, to the same effect as above.
It is understood that the foray made by the Scots into England was not so important as at first reported, the Scots having merely observed a certain custom of theirs on the first day of the year, from which they prognosticate the success of the whole year; and they ran over a part of the country to make a good beginning to conquest, but they had not done much harm.
The Emperor has accepted the excuse of Count Sigismondo di Lodron, who tells me that his Imperial Majesty has appointed in his stead, as his Ambassador to England, Count Helffenstein, the Imperial Ambassador resident at this Court.
Your Serenity's letter of the 2nd ultimo, desiring me to condole with his Majesty on the death of the Queens of England and Hungary, only arrived yesterday, but I cannot perform this office until after the departure of these Commissioners.
Brussels, 1st February 1559.
[Italian; the portion in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
Feb. 5. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 17. Paulo Tiepolo, Venetian Ambassador with King Philip, to the Doge and Senate.
On the 2nd instant the Commissioners here left for the Conference and have orders from his Majesty to decide in one way or the other with the utmost possible speed, as if peace is to ensue, the sooner it is made the better will it be for him, as he will thus be relieved from the heavy expense of his army; or if the war is to continue, he will be enabled to design some expedition, so that the troops in his pay may no longer remain quite idle and useless. The Duke of Alva and the Bishop of Arras, when talking with me on this subject before their departure, said that they should in a few days know the mind of the French, and whether peace or war was to ensue; but here they have fair hopes of peace, and at Antwerp there are heavy even wagers pending in favour of it.
Brussels, 5th February 1559.
[Italian; deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
Feb. 6. Original Letter, Mantuan Archives. 18. Il Schifanoya to Ottaviano Vivaldino, Mantuan Ambassador with King Philip at Brussels.
In two or three days hence I am going to ride into Northamptonshire with my lord and master, (fn. 1) some 60 miles hence, but I will not fail to write if my return is long delayed; and I pray you to do the like by me, addressing your letters to that Mantuan of ours, by name Master Marco Bueso, who keeps a mercery shop in Lombard Street.
Here, Parliament goes on briskly, and in the Lower House there was great talk about giving the title of Supreme Head of the Anglican Church (supremum caput Ecclesiœ Anglicanœ) to the Queen, much being said against the Church [of Rome]; but nothing has been yet settled on that subject.
They have however debated and settled the subsidy, as in the time of Queen Mary, but aliens will have to pay double; except that then this tax was levied in one year, and now the term of two years is conceded for its payment. Nothing was said about the clergy, who expect some greater scourge.
The affairs of religion have undergone no change since my last account of them, save that in several churches in London they have commenced singing the litanies in English, as is done in the Chapel Royal. Mass is nevertheless said in all the churches, the Host being elevated as usual in the presence of numerous congregations, who show much devotion; so it is evident that the religion has not such a sorry footing or foundation as was supposed (non ha si tristo piede nè fondamento come se pensava), for everybody is now at liberty to go or to stay away. Persons in authority however do not fail to try the ford (di tentare il guado). as they did the other day by accusing two Doctors of Laws, the one a priest and the other a layman, of speaking evil (d'haver straparlato) of the affairs of the religion; to which they bravely and prudently answered the Lords of the Council, and especially the layman, by name Master Storye (Stori), (fn. 2) who said, “You need not interrogate me about these matters, as I know better than any of you both the canon laws and those of this kingdom; let my accusers appear and prove what I have said, for I certainly said nothing at which you could reasonably take offence; but should her Majesty will otherwise, I do not refuse to die for the Church.” The other said the like, telling the Lords of the Council besides that her Majesty could not do them a greater favour. So from what I hear all the clergy are united and confirmed in this holy and good opinion. Some of them will perhaps change their minds, but they will be esteemed for what they are. There are yet many frivolous and foolish people who daily invent plays in derision of the Catholic faith, of the Church, of the clergy, and of the religion, and, by placards posted at the corners of the streets (per gli cantoni), they invite people to the taverns, to see these representations, taking money from their audience. Others rob the churches by night, break the windows, and steal whatever they can, as they did two nights ago at the church of the Italian nation, where they stole the tabernacle of the sacrament, which they thought was of silver, but they found it to be of gilt copper, nor did it contain the sacrament, and a pall with other trifles, worth about two or three crowns; not having perhaps from fear of discovery dared to enter the sacristy, which contained the sacerdotal ornaments, chalices, crosses, &c.; the thieves remaining unpunished.
Last evening at the Court a double mummery was played: one set of mummers rifled the Queen's ladies, and the other set, with wooden swords and bucklers, recovered the spoil.
Then at the dance the Queen performed her part, the Duke of Norfolk being her partner (capo), in superb array.
About the marriage, it is still said by the vulgar that one Master Pickering (Pincurin) [Sir William Pickering] will be her husband. He is an English Knight (cavaliere), who was sent to Germany, and for the last three months he has been ill at Dunkirk. Should he recover, I hear that he has something good in hand.
London, 6th February 1559. [Signed] Il Schifanoya. (fn. 3)
Feb 6. Copy. Venetian Archives. 19. Letter from London, enclosed in a Letter of Paulo Tiepolo, dated 17th February.
Parliament here is still occupied with the business for which it was assembled, as set forth on the first day of the session, viz. to amend religion and to remove idolatry; to mitigate certain penal laws; and to demand a subsidy. The subsidy is obtained on the same terms as the last one granted to Queen Mary, that is to say, four shillings (soldi) in the pound on the rents of landed property,—tantamount to what would be called in Italy, for 20 Mocenigos, four,—and two shillings (soldi) on moveable property (di beni mobili), and I know not what additional sum, exceeding their estimate, which is made at the pleasure of the officials And this with regard to the laity. Nothing has yet been said about the clergy, though Parliament has commenced depriving them of all those benefices which were impropriated to the Crown by Henry VIII. when he suppressed the monasteries, and which Queen Mary restored. Parliament (as was also done in King Henry's time) has moreover ordered the clergy to pay the first fruits and the annual tenths to the Crown, so that all the anticipated advantage to the clergy has vanished into smoke (se n' è ito in fumo). From these beginnings you can judge what the bishops and the rest of the clergy have to expect as to their lives and property; but the latter remain very firm, and do not consent to anything contrary either to the Catholic religion or to the conditions affecting it; and there are many peers and other laymen who imitate them. The payment of the subsidy is to be made in two years, whereas the last in Queen Mary's reign was made in one year, but there is no other difference. Respecting the title “Caput Ecclesiæ,” it was debated incidentally, but nothing has been settled or even proposed, but should any motion be made to that effect, as is expected, I hear that many members who have hitherto been silent will commence speaking, so that there will be much matter for debate.
Parliament also sent a deputation to pray the Queen that she will be pleased to marry within the Realm (che si vogli maritar et nel Regno), something having been heard to the contrary, but they did not propose to her a patrician rather than a plebian; and her Majesty, after having first made some verbal resistance to the first point, as becoming a maiden, replied that to oblige them she would marry; adding with regard to the second point, that she had well seen how many inconveniences her sister was subjected to, from having married a foreigner. Some persons are of opinion that she will marry to please herself (as it seems to me that I also should do the like), and perhaps a person of not much lineage. Amongst those most frequently mentioned is a gentleman who is now in Flanders, and who is said to be ill there. Guess who he is!
The offices of the Church, and the ministration of the sacraments, continue in all the churches as during Queen Mary's reign, except in the Queen's Chapel, where, at the mass, they do not elevate the sacrament, and the litanies are said in the vulgar English, omitting the invocation of saints, and the prayers for the Pope; which practice is also observed by the incumbents (curati) of some few churches, but they are not compelled to do so. The Epistle and Gospel are also read in English, after the litanies.
The acts and decrees of Queen Mary and Cardinal Pole have vanished into smoke (se ne vanno in fumo), but it is really very suprising to witness the very great fortitude of many persons, both bishops, lay-lords, and plebeians, who have not bowed the knee before Baal, and who are prepared to suffer any extreme punishment, rather than return to their former state under King Henry.
London, 6th February 1559.
Feb. 6. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 20. Giovanni Michiel, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
On the 1st instant, after the marriage of his son M. de Damville, the Constable departed for the site of the Conference, the Marshal de St. André having also proceeded in that direction six days previously. The Cardinal of Lorraine left the same day as the Constable, but took another road, so that they might all assemble in the town of Guise on the 4th, that place being four leagues from Cateau Cambresis, the site of the Conference, where they were to be on the 5th.
By letters from the Bishop of Limoges it is heard that King Philip's Commissioners had arrived, and when the Bishop visited them, Don Ruy Gomez spoke to him very freely, but yet more so the Prince of Orange, giving him great hopes of a good conclusion, and telling him they were ordered by his Catholic Majesty to despatch the matter forthwith (di espedirsi quanto prima). The same instructions have been given here likewise to the French Commissioners, as in the act of departure the Cardinal of Lorraine said to the person who narrated it to me, that he was only to remain 10 or 12 days, during which period, in one way or the other, he was to endeavour to obtain a result without further delay.
A person sent back from England by Lord Grey made his appearance here lately, bringing word that his Lordship will not fail to return hither at the end of the period of two months taken by him on his “parole”; and the report continues that he will be accompanied by two other personages. Owing to the war, the advices thence are few, either about the Queen's marriage, or other resolves there; and even those who have the means of hearing them through secret channels merely discuss them doubtfully as things uncertain and conjectural, and as a topic of conversation rather than from knowledge. And concerning England, during these nuptials the arms of the Queen-Dauphine were seen quartered with those of that kingdom; and I understand that their seals were engraved in like manner, to show their claim publicly.
Paris, 6th February 1559.
Feb. 12. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 21. Paulo Tiepolo, Venetian Ambassador with King Philip, to the Doge and Senate.
After I had condoled with the King on the death of the Queens of England and of Hungary, his Majesty said, in reply to my remarks about the peace, that he had more at heart the common weal than his own, and had therefore given such orders to his Commissioners, that unless the French went greatly astray from what was fair, as they sometimes did, he hoped peace would be concluded.
The Spanish Commissioners arrived at Cambresis on the 5th, and the French on the morning of the 6th, and in the afternoon they all assembled in the house of the Duchess of Lorraine; and having remained a long while together, on coming forth they seemed very cheerful. On the 7th, the day of the Carnival, they were all entertained by the Constable. But in the meanwhile the Duke of Savoy has sent an order to all the military chiefs to be ready within ten days to march whithersoever commanded, and in Germany orders have been issued to give earnest money to 6,000 cavalry; it being also said that Gian Andrea Doria went in haste to Italy to have the fleet in readiness in the course of this month.
I enclose copy of a paragraph copied by me from a letter which the Bishop of Aquila, who was sent as Ambassador by King Philip to England on the death of Queen Mary, wrote to a friend of his; and in accordance with it I understand they are treating in Parliament what form of religion (che stato di religione) that kingdom is to have, and that during this interval the Queen continues to live as she was accustomed to do in her father's time, but that some of the principal personages show themselves favourable to the Catholic faith at the instigation of the Count de Feria, who does not fail to use every effort in order that England may maintain the true religion, and God grant that the result be good; but in the meanwhile the discussion about the Queen's marriage to this King has in great measure ceased, and it seems that the whole of this negotiation will depend on the resolve of Parliament about religion. Brussels, 12th February 1559.
[Italian; the portions in italics deciphered by SignorLuigi Pasini.]
Feb. 13. Copy. Venetian Archives. 22. Enclosure in a Letter of Paulo Tiepolo, Venetian Ambassador with King Philip, dated 17th February.
The Conference here continues with great diligence, for every day they remain at least three hours together. Yesterday the Spanish Commissioners, before they assembled, despatched a courier to England, and this morning the Duke of Alva and the others went into the town to see the English Ambassadors, with whom they remained about three hours, and in the act of departure the new English Ambassador [Lord Howard of Effingham] was seen to have a writing in the form of an agreement. The affair turns upon the differences with England; but the negotiation proceeds secretly, as a matter of such great importance must proceed. Late this evening the Duke of Lorraine arrived with a great number of gentlemen.
Cambresis, 13th February 1559.
Feb. 13. Original Letter, Mantuan Archives. 23. Il Schifanoya to Ottaviano Vivaldino, Mantuan Ambassador with King Philip at Brussels, or wherever he (Vivaldino) is.
I now write to your Lordship that the affairs of the religion in this kingdom are going from bad to worse, and although a proposal was twice debated, and not carried, to give her Majesty the title of Supreme Head of the Anglican Church, yet from what is seen it will inevitably pass. They have already settled to give back to the Crown all the benefices and tenths which for conscience sake had been restored by the late Queen, none of whose acts now remain valid, those of Cardinal Pole likewise being annulled. Of this I am the more convinced by the sermon preached yesterday at the Court in the place where, during the reigns of Kings Henry and Edward, Doctor Scory used to preach, he having been heretofore Bishop of Chichester, who said so much evil of the Pope, of the bishops, of the prelates, of the regulars, of the Church, of the mass, and finally of our entire faith, in the presence of the Queen and of her Council, the rest of the congregation consisting of more than 5,000 persons, that I was much scandalized, and I promise never to go there again, after hearing the outrageous and extravagant things which they say; and yet more was I surprised at the concourse of people who madly flocked to hear such vain things. Consequently everything will go from bad to worse, and the religion and the religious will be abolished (levarassi). Thus my projects are all vain, nor shall I be able to continue serving this Lord, (fn. 4) although he will doubtless remain a good christian, as he always was at the time of the other schism, but he will remain in the country, and will observe the old rite secretly. My conscience will not allow me to associate with heretics, and to hold the other opinion in secret; so I now pray your Lordship, for the love you bear me, to have some consideration for me, and to try and place me with some Lord at Brussels; or else, should a Venetian Ambassador come to England shortly, as expected, it would be well for him and for me, as I would serve him lovingly, without his having to solicit anyone or incurring further expense, and he would find me to be a person who has experience of the Court and its customs.
London, 13th February 1559. [Signed] Il Schifanoya.
Feb. 14. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 24. Giovanni Michiel, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the, Doge and Senate.
After the departure hence of the Commissioners for the peace, there arrived from Calais the Vidâme de Chartres, Governor of that place, accompanied by that Englishman (fn. 5) who, as mentioned by me in a former despatch, had arrived here clandestinely (occultamente); and having brought a letter from Queen Elizabeth, he was sent back immediately with the reply, being also the bearer (as was told me subsequently with great secrecy, to which all the rest of this negotiation is likewise consigned) of a diamond worth 12,000 crowns, as a present to the aforesaid Queen, sent to her as a slight token to show the most Christian King's unceasing affection for and remembrance of her; not that she may think he is sending her a gift becoming her greatness, or equal to the grade in which she found herself. (fn. 6) The said Englishman having again brought another letter from the Queen, in reply to the one addressed to her, I hear from a person through whose hands the whole of this business passes, that it is now supposed to refer to another separate conference between the Commissioners of France and England, apart from the one now in being, and without the intervention of any other minister or representative of any other Prince, neither England nor France desiring that any but themselves may know or understand their affairs, and still less meddle with them (travagliarsi nei fatti loro). With this object the said Vidâme was immediately despatched postwise to the Constable and the Cardinal of Lorraine, to have their opinion whether this new conference should be held or not, and on his return yesterday morning he announced their approval of it; but when his most Christian Majesty was on the point of sending back this Englishman to England, one of the Constable's secretaries arrived express to warn the King not to despatch him until he knew what sort of proposal had been made at Gateau Cambresis by the English Commissioners, who had., not yet, spoken, having chosen first of all to meet (esser insieme) and consult with the King Catholics Commissioners. The Constable was therefore of opinion that his most Christian Majesty might subsequently determine with greater reason either to accept or reject this second conference. They therefore continue to wait and procrastinate, until the Constable sends them word what proposal may be made by the English Commissioners. In the meanwhile they are discussing the site of the second Conference, which is to be either Boulogne or Montreuil, at the option of the English, according to their convenience, and the chief Commissioner on the part of France is destined to be the Vidâme de Chartres.
Immediately on the arrival of the French Commissioners at Cambresis, they sent notice to his Majesty that a person had been sent in advance to notify that he would be followed by Ambassadors from the Emperor, and from all the States and Princes of the Empire, accredited in that place to the Kings of France and Spain, (but according to report, to the knowledge of King Philip, with whom they had an understanding to that effect), to prefer suit for the restitution of what belonged to the Empire, and especially of the cities of Metz, Toul, and Verdun, held by the King of France; and that the Constable and the Cardinal of Lorraine gave it to be understood, and said freely, that for their part, they would not only not give any answer, but would not even admit the said ambassadors, who neither ought to have a place at the Conference, nor could they, as it had assembled solely to treat the differences between the Kings of Spain and France, and not those of other Princes, and the more because King Philip had nothing to do with the Empire, nor had any share or interest in it; that even if the Emperor, and the other Princes of the said Empire wished for anything from his most Christian Majesty, he having lately accredited his Ambassadors to the Diet, application might be made to them, or an embassy might be sent, to negotiate with his Majesty in person, who commended and confirmed this resolve, commanding them to abide by it.
Paris, 14th February 1559.
1559. Feb. 17. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 25. Paulo Tiepolo, Venetian Ambassador with King Philip, to the Doge and Senate.
On the first day of Lent, the Commissioners at the Conference, after having heard the mass of the Holy Ghost, commenced the negotiation, which proceeds so secretly that it is difficult even for those present there to hear anything about it. I will merely mention that this morning it was reported that the Duke of Alva had arrived bringing the conclusion of the peace, and some persons came to my house to give me this intelligence, one of them having already engaged a courier for its conveyance to Italy, but on inquiry, I ascertained that the Duke of Alva had not arrived, and that nothing authentic had been heard about the peace; except that after much dispute with the French about the affairs relating to England, the Ambassadors from that kingdom having taken ten days' time to give a reply to certain proposals made to them, the Commissioners in the meanwhile will await it. I do not know whether the French proposals are of such a nature as to ensure Queen Elizabeth's acceptance; but I will do my best to elicit some information. All four Spanish Commissioners were lodged in the so-called pleasure residence outside the territory (terra) of Cambresis in the direction of Brussels. The French had their lodging in the quarter of the “Porte de Guise,” and the English Ambassadors in the quarter of the gate towards Burgundy. Thus the Spanish Commissioners are better lodged than the others, and therefore hitherto all have assembled at their residence to negotiate, and it was a fine sight to see how richly and honourably they were apparelled.
It has been necessary to provide a police force to patrol the town constantly to prevent the insolence of certain lackeys, who are French footmen, and who, whenever they saw Spanish noblemen, picked a quarrel with them. If precaution had not been taken, some greater scandal might have ensued.
I send two letters from England addressed to certain friends of mine; both are from a good quarter, but the second from the better.
Brussels, 17th February 1559.
Feb. 19. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 26. Paulo Tiepolo, Venetian Ambassador with King Philip, to the Doge and Senate.
The Spanish and French Commissioners have held four conferences, at the first of which the French were so stubborn (tanto gagliardi) about the question of Calais that they would not listen to its discussion. The Spaniards on the other hand gave it clearly to be understood that they would negotiate no further unless this question was first disposed of, saying that if the French had no intention of conceding anything, they might have saved themselves the trouble of coming to this fresh conference, which was held solely in order that each party by making concessions might find the medium of adjustment. The dispute went so far that the Commissioners separated in discord, and it seemed as if they would not re-assemble; but the Duchess of Lorraine interposed, and caused them again to confer. After much dispute, the French at length proposed to the English that they were content, should the Queen of England marry, to restore Calais to her eldest son, provided he take for wife a daughter of the King-Dauphin; and in case these terms should not please them, they offered to restore the place within the term of eight years; so the Ambassadors took time to reply, and wrote to England, and King Philip also despatched a courier to the Count de Feria. The conference in the meanwhile was suspended, and until the conclusion of this matter, they will not negotiate anything, but if agreed to, it is hoped that there will be less difficulty about the remainder; hence arise both the great hope of peace, and the current report of its being effected. I wrote that Queen Elizabeth had given King Philip to understand that she did not choose this good work of peace to fail on her account, and it has been confirmed to me that she had placed the whole affair in his hands; but his Majesty acts with much reserve, and chooses in every respect to obtain satisfaction for the Queen, who has subsequently shown herself rather more difficult, most especially through her new Ambassador [Lord Howard of Effingham], who went (direct) to the Conference without coming hither.
A Florentine gentleman, who is come from Cambresis, where he had private business to transact with the French Commissioners, reports that the Prince of Ferrara asked their King to give him the places held by his Majesty in Tuscany in payment of the debts due. from him (the King) to the Duke of Ferrara, his father, the Prince doing this at the request of his father-in-law, the Duke of Florence, with whom the Duke of Ferrara has a very good understanding, but would also wish to get back his money; notwithstanding which, the Florentine Ambassador and Chiapino Vitelli here at Brussels do not cease urging King Philip, should the peace be made, to give those places to their Duke, and they have his Majesty's promise to that effect.
I have been told on good authority, as a great secret, that amongst the other designs of Duke Cosmo, is that of marrying the Prince, his son, to the Queen widow of Portugal, King Philip's sister; and that this is one of the chief commissions given to Vitelli, who has let King Philip know that the King of France does not cease tempting Duke Cosmo in many ways, and lately offered him one of his daughters for the Prince, promising the Duke to give him the places held by France in Tuscany, and make him King of that province, should he desire such a title; but Duke Cosmo desires to remain the dependant of his Catholic Majesty, as hitherto, and no offer can alter his mind. Vitelli had spoken thus to move King Philip to devise means for obliging Duke Cosmo, lest he should ally himself with France.
The excuse of the Emperor's Ambassador resident here not having been accepted, he departed hence three days ago, and is going in the Emperor's name to the Queen of England.
By a courier from Rome information has been received of the Pope's severe mode of proceeding against his nephews. (fn. 7) Cardinal [Carlo] Caraffa has, nevertheless, given King Philip to understand that the chief cause of the Pope's anger against him and his brothers is because they all three sought his Majesty s advantage, and that nothing has displeased his Holiness more than to hear that Paliano is in the hands of its present possessor, as until now he believed the Duke, his brother, to be there; so he prays his Majesty to have him under his protection, and to obtain for them the Pope's grace.
Brussels, 19th February 1559.
[Italian; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
Feb. 20. Copy. Venetian Archives. 27. Letter from London (enclosed in a Letter of Paulo Tiepolo, dated 26th February).
I did not write last week because there was nothing worthy of advice, as our affairs proceed as heretofore, and Parliament has not yet come to any decision about a “Bill,” so called by them, viz., a schedule presented, whereby it is proposed to give ecclesiastical authority to the Queen, and to annul almost all the public and private Acts (cose) enacted and ordained by the late Queen. As the “Bill” contains very many clauses, an order became necessary for its examination, clause by clause, as they are now doing. These examinations and debates are made by the Lower House, and when they are concluded, the Bill will be sent to the Upper House, to which however as yet nothing whatever has been sent; so in Parliament the Catholic union stands firm, though its fall is not far off.
A proclamation has been made in the Queen's name forbidding flesh to be eaten during Lent, her Majesty reserving to herself the grant of permission not to fast; but this prohibition, according to the official notice, is rather for a political reason than for anything else, viz., to preserve the cattle for the rest of the year, and for the livelihood of the very great number of fishermen and fishmongers in this kingdom, it having been customary to act in like manner under King Edward also.
London, 20th February 1559.
Feb. 23. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 28. Paulo Tiepolo, Venetian Ambassador with King Philip, to the Doge and Senate.
On Tuesday last his Majesty went to Binche, midway between this place and Cambresis, and will remain there for some days, having decided to go thither, both to pass his time more pleasantly as there are many very good chases in that neighbourhood, and much more for the sake of being nearer the site of the Conference, to hear the news more speedily, and to reply as necessary; besides which, he wishes these negotiations to proceed seceretly, not choosing to have any one with him but his chamberlains; and having dismissed his usual archer-guard, and two companies of cavalry who escorted him, he has now but 30 horse. The same regard for secresy caused the Spanish Commissioners not to allow any Ambassadors to attend the Conference except those of England and Savoy. Those of Florence and Mantua, who were at the other conference of Cercamp, remain here, against their will, as the interests of their princes concerning Tuscany and Montferrat are at stake.
The Duke of Lorraine is expected at Binche to pay his respects to his Majesty, and to see his two sisters, who by order of their mother will go thither to-morrow; the Duchess and the Prince of Orange accompanying the Duke to Binche.
As the Duke of Alva is seriously ill, the renewal of the Conference may be postponed, although the reply from England is expected hourly, its non-arrival hitherto being attributed to bad weather; and here all delay is very injurious, as King Philip's daily expenses, on account of the conference, amount to 8,000 crowns. What this reply may be, no one can tell; the proposals of the French on the one hand showing that they have little will ever to restore Calais, whilst on the other, England not being strong or well disposed to wage war in such a way as she would be bound to do, it seems a mockery to fail making peace on her sole account. I also find some judicious persons suspect that even were that matter adjusted, other important difficulties might nevertheless arise about the affairs of Tuscany and Corsica, and the mode and time of restoring the fortresses on one side and the other; and principally about the restoration of the Duke of Savoy, which was not well determined at the conference of Cercamp; but here such a wish for quiet is visible, that if they cannot have peace, it would be no wonder if they content themselves with a truce.
At the last meetings of the Commissioners the French did their utmost to persuade the Spaniards to agree upon the questions relating to France and Spain, and conclude peace between these two crowns, without reference to the Queen of England, citing, in addition to other reasons, the example of the Emperor, King Philip's father, who in 1544 made peace with France, and left King Henry at war. This the Commissioners would wish his Catholic Majesty to do at present with regard to the Queen, so that they might more advantageously prosecute their claim to that kingdom; but as yet the Spaniards will not listen to this proposal, being of opinion that any misfortune incurred by the Queen would be very perilous for these Provinces, and that these are different times from those of Charles the Fifth, because then the French had no such pretensions, and England was in a better position, being then defended by an old and powerful King.
By two letters which I sent from England you will have seen what had taken place there in Parliament down to the 6th instant. Advices have been received here since that the session still continues, and it was believed they would give the Queen the title usurped by her father and brother of “Supreme Head of the English and Irish Church.” In the aforesaid Queen's presence sermons are preached to very large congregations against the power of the Pope and other Catholic tenets; and concerning her marriage, it still continued to be said that she would take that Master Pickering (quel Mastro Pincarin), who, from information received by me, is about 36 years old, of tall stature, and handsome, and very successful with women, for he is said to have enjoyed the intimacy of many and great ones. On the accession of Queen Mary he went into voluntary exile, but was subsequently recalled by her, and she commissioned him to go to Germany to raise a German regiment, as he did, and took it to the sea-side, precisely at the time of the rout of M. de Termes at Gravelines; after which, with the Queens consent, he took the regiment for himself and, without crossing over to England, remained in Flanders, where he fell ill for a time, but has now recovered.
Brussels, 23rd February 1559.
[Italian; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
Feb. 23. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 29. Giovanni Michiel, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The King being on his way to meet the Constable at this place (sic) of Villers-Cotterets, the Bishop of Limoges arrived postwise, to give account of the matters treated hitherto at the Conference, and particularly of those of Calais, which are the principal and most important points. The Prince of Ferrara told my Secretary that at this second conference the Commissioners on either side had hitherto met four times. At the first meeting King Philip's Commissioners merely stated that as at the other conference there remained for settlement the agreement about the affairs of England, order and duty (l'ordine et il dover) required that as they had again assembled for the same purpose, they should commence with English affairs, and then pass on to the others; to which the French Commissioners replied that although on the former occasion English affairs had been discussed together with other matters relating to his Catholic Majesty, it had been from respect for his close connexion with that kingdom through his marriage with the late Queen, but as that connexion had now been severed by death, there was no occasion for his Majesty's Commissioners to treat and interfere further with regard to the interests of England; and for that day it would appear that no further rejoinder nor any more pressing demand was made. But, when after two or three days' interval, they assembled for the second time, the Commissioners of King Philip said that although the death of the Queen of England had dissolved the tie of matrimony, and consequently the union of that kingdom with his Catholic Majesty's own realms, there nevertheless remained unbroken that understanding and position which for many reasons his Majesty intended to maintain. As at his suit principally England had declared herself the enemy of France, on whom she had waged war, it was not proper, when treating about an agreement, not to treat jointly with that kingdom also;. nor ought he to fail doing his utmost that England likewise should receive due and becoming satisfaction. The Spanish Commissioners said freely that they had particular and express commission from his Catholic Majesty not to commence negotiating any of his personal affairs unless those of England also were treated and decided simultaneously. To this the French Commissioners replied that the. English Commissioners being there on the spot, having come on their own business, they alone and no one else either could or ought to speak about it; adding that from their intercourse with the English Commissioners, and from conversations held with them, they felt certain that the latter would not refuse to assemble with them separately at another conference; and saying finally that the English Commissioners were to propose terms, and according to their proposal, so would they receive a reply. Subsequently, at the third meeting, the English Commissioners, in the presence of those of King Philip, demanded the restitution of Calais, the Spanish Commissioners adding that unless this took place it was not to be supposed that any decisive agreement, even about the other matters already stipulated, could ensue. The debate became so violent (fu, tale la contesta), the French Commissioners, as on the former occasion, most positively refusing their consent to the restitution in any way, that the Commissioners almost determined on separation, and to dissolve the Conference absolutely. But through the prayers and address of the Duchess of Lorraine, in whose chamber as usual all the meetings took place, they shortly afterwards assembled for the fourth time; and having then become more reasonable and conciliatory, they at length resolved that the particular affairs relating to the Kings of France and Spain, concerning marriages, cessions, and restitutions on either side, were to remain as settled at the other Conference. As for Calais, some suggestion was then put forward by the French Commissioners that their King would condescend so far as to give some sort of compensation; for which purpose a messenger was to be sent to Queen Elizabeth, and another to King Henry, in order to learn forthwith the opinion of each with reference to accepting or rejecting the principle of compensation. The Bishop of Limoges also went to the King with this proposal, and was sent back instantly to say that his Majesty was content to accept it; but according to what I hear from the Prince of Ferrara and others, he only agreed to grant a pecuniary pension, of which the amount and quality (quantità et qualità) are to be awarded hereafter by commissioners appointed for that purpose. During this interval, and until the reply arrives from Queen Elizabeth, to whom for greater certainty they have sent in writing the last offer of compensation made by the French Commissioners, in order that she might decide with less delay, the Constable, knowing that it cannot come so speedily by reason of the sea voyage, availed himself of the opportunity to see his Majesty, and arrived yesterday morning in time for dinner. The only cause that can be assigned as yet for his coming is that he wished to give the King more particular account of all that has passed, and particularly about these affairs of Calais; and to persuade him besides (in case of any accident that might arise to prevent the agreement, about which no one can make sure, as although matters are very well set forward so as to warrant hopes of the best result, yet everything is in the hands of God), for the sake of his reputation, if for nothing else, and in order that he might be prepared and ready for either event, to commence forthwith providing for the war, by sending off all these chief foreign military commanders now here, and making it appear that they are despatched to raise cavalry and infantry, to be sent on their march at the slightest hint from his Majesty, causing them also to receive some earnest money, so as to undeceive all those who believed that either from want of power, or from not having the means, or from negligence, his Majesty, relying on the peace, failed to make due and necessary preparations. For the next three days during the Constable's stay here, they will therefore attend to this, and spread reports that the orders for new levies are much greater than they are in reality; nor will the King depart hence, for the Constable has persuaded him to remain, that he may more speedily receive news of the Conference, this place being but twenty leagues distance from Cateau Cambresis. The King's joy seems to be very great, for since the arrival of the Constable those who attend his Majesty and have long observed his custom and his nature, which know not how to dissemble, infer that great hope of peace has been given him; the Constable having also given the same hope to Madame Marguerite.
The Duchess of Lorraine, after having seen her son the Duke, wished and made suit to see likewise his bride, her daughter-in-law, who is preparing for departure in two or three days, and will go very well accompanied, as becoming a daughter of his most Christian Majesty. It is said here that the Duke, her husband went to see King Philip.
Ferté Milon, 23rd February 1559.
Feb. 25. Copy. Venetian Archives. 30. Letter from the Secretary of the Duke of Alva (enclosed in a letter of Paulo Tiepolo, dated 26th February).
For some days past I have omitted writing to your Lordship, as there was nothing to advise, the Conference being adjourned until the return of the courier from England, which took place this morning, but I have not yet heard what he brings. The Secretary is at hand deciphering the despatches of the Count de Feria. The Secretary of the English Ambassador tells me that these letters bring a decision which will, he believes, soon set us all at liberty. The Constable has not yet returned. I believe he. cannot fail to be here to-day or tomorrow, and from what I can discover these affairs will soon be settled in one way or the other, but I do not know what will become of Calais.
Cambresis, 25th February 1559.
Feb. 26. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 31. Paulo Tiepolo, Venetian Ambassador with King Philip, to the Doge and Senate.
Yesterday morning the courier returned from England to Cambresis with the reply; but as yet its purport cannot be ascertained, and the person who writes from the Conference expresses himself so ambiguously (cosi dubbiosamente) that it is impossible to form an opinion about what may be hoped, as your Serenity will see by the enclosed copy of a letter from the same secretary of the Duke of Alva, who wrote the former one transmitted by me. I am nevertheless assured that before the Constable went back to France he told the Count of Stroppiana, who is at the Conference as the representative of the Duke of Savoy, to write in the Constables name to his master to act in such a way that the question of Calais (which place the most Christian King will on no terms restore) may not impede the peace; as for the rest they will be sure of agreeing together; so the Duke hopes that the French will be content to retain fewer fortresses in Piedmont than were demanded by them at the Conference of Cevcamp. I also hear on good authority that Madame Marguerite, the King's sister, who, should the peace be made, will, according to report, marry the Duke of Savoy, took the opportunity, when writing to him in recommendation of a certain individual, greatly to praise the Constable in the said letter for having done his utmost to procure the peace and the advantage of the said Duke, who should therefore deservedly favour and shew esteem for him by every sort of office. These circumstances, together with the Duke of Lorraine's visit to King Philip, prove good will on the part of the French likewise, and that they are not averse to peace. This is also confirmed by some persons who have come from France, and who report that peace is desired and believed in. If this wish is reciprocal on both sides, it may be hoped that all difficulties will vanish. The Duke of Alva, who had been unwell, was better.
I send your Serenity the copy of a letter from England, which is all I have from these parts.
Brussels, 26th February 1559.
[Italian; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
Feb. 27. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 32. Giovanni Michiel, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Constable departed to-day, having prolonged his stay for two additional days to receive the news, which arrived last evening, to the effect that the reply from England had been received, and according to general report he went away with the intention of staying a very short time at Cateau Cambresis, for as the only remaining question for settlement is the affair of England, the Conference will soon ascertain the mind of Queen Elizabeth. Her mode of proceeding hitherto seems to cause much doubt and surprise to the French Commissioners, because the Lord William [Howard of Effingham], who was sent by her lately to the Conference, either from craft, owing to the presence and interposition of King Philip's Commissioners, and in order not to divulge anything to them, or from some other cause, spoke in a very different tone to the message brought lately by the individual mentioned in my former letters, who came hither to negotiate clandestinely and returned. The said Lord William declared plainly that unless Calais were restored he had no commission to proceed further; whilst the other negotiator had not indeed announced [the Queen's] intention, but had given very earnest hope that an agreement might be made in some other way than by the restitution of Caiais, a suggestion which they had already discussed; and they had almost agreed by common consent to meet at another conference in the city of Boulogne, where on the part of France, besides the Vidâme de Chartres, the Duke de Guise was to be present. By a person who conducts this negotiation (questo maneggio) I am told that the King, to ascertain whether he is deceived by the diversity of these two proposals, sent back immediately to England the aforesaid Englishman accompanied by a French gentleman, (fn. 8) with a commission that on hearing with more certainty the will of the Queen he was to return to Cateau Cambresis with her reply, so that when his report is made, the Constable and the other French Commissioners may know better how to regulate themselves; and therefore by the next advice from the Constable information is expected as to what may be hoped.
Yesterday a courier arrived from “Rome despatched by the French Ambassador there expressly to give account of the strange things that had taken place between the Pope and his nephews, which at this Court have caused, and still continue causing, no less laughter than astonishment.
Ferté Milon, 27th February 1559.


  • 1. The writer was in the service of Sir Thomas Tresham, Prior of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem in England, as may be inferred from subsequent letters,
  • 2. Dr. John Storye. See Venetian Cal. VI. Nos. 108, 137.
  • 3. A copy of this letter, omitting the first paragraph and the name of the writer, was one of the copies enclosed in the letter of Paulo Tiepolo, dated Brussels, 17th Fehruary.
  • 4. Sir Thomas Tresham, Prior of St. John of Jerusalem.
  • 5. Guido Cavalcanti. (See before, under date 20th January, and Foreign Calendar 1558–1559, pp. 93–95.)
  • 6.
  • 7. The disgrace of the Pope's nephews took place on the 27th January 1559.
  • 8. In Foreign Calendar, Elizabeth, date Feb. 28, 1559, entry No. 361, p. 151, it is seen that Cavalcanti was accompanied by “one La Marque, a valet of the French King's Chamber, bringing a letter of credit,” &c.