Venice: August 1560

Pages 243-251

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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August 1560

Aug. 8. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 189. Giovanni Michiel, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Princes and Lords of the Kingdom, all the Governors of the Provinces, and all persons entitled to a seat in the Privy Council, have been summoned to attend on the 20th instant for the discussion of many matters. The summons was served on all of them by letter, with the exception of the King of Navarre and the Constable, to each of whom his Majesty sent a gentleman; and the Cardinal of Lorraine is intent on composing a long discourse not only to give an account of his administration in confutation of the current reports of his adjusting matters in his own way, but also to prove that the troubled state of the kingdom with regard to religion, justice, and policy, and above all the great debts of the Crown, are owing to past misrule, so as to justify and exonerate himself at the expense of those in power at that time. It is also said that remedies will be proposed, and that with the intervention and in the presence of so many great personages, his Majesty will establish and confirm the present government, so that no one may any longer dare to say that it has been usurped. The King of Navarre is expected with his two brothers, the Cardinal of Bourbon and the Prince of Condé, who are all together; so the Guises have desired the Marshal of St. André [Jacques d'Albon], now at his castles in Gascony, who is very much in their confidence, to ascertain and give precise notice of the number and quality of their retinue, that the Guises may be prepared to receive and meet them in like manner, as also to show that the followers of the House of Guise are not fewer than theirs.
During the last three days the gates of Paris have been closed, no one being allowed exit or entrance except by the wickets; while the public officials with a strong guard inspected all dwellings, at all hours of the night, taking note of the inmates and insisting upon seeing them one by one; and if they found harquebuses, spears, or pikes, they seized them, prohibiting any but gentlemen or persons of some account to carry a sword. They also imprisoned a large number of persons found in the taverns, retail wine shops, and brothels, and hanged some of them as vagabonds and ill-disposed. This search was made to find Maligni, one of the chiefs of the Amboise conspiracy, and who is suspected to have returned with more plots and designs than ever.
Melun, 8th August 1560.
Aug. 16. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 190. Giovanni Michiel, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
We Ambassadors have only just returned from Paris, whither we went by the King's orders to attend the obsequies on the 12th and 13th, in the Church of Notre Dame, of the Queen Regent of Scotland. Several personages [named] attended on behalf of the King and Queen [Mary Stuart].
The Ambassadors of Spain, England, and Florence were not present, the two latter owing to questions of precedence between them and the Ambassadors of Ferrara and Portugal.
The Constable Montmorency arrived at the Court to-day, and made his appearance with a numerous and honourable company, having with him his nephews the Cardinal Chatillon, the Admiral, and M. d' Andelot, his brother-in-law the Count de Villars, all his sons, sons-in-law, friends, dependants, and his servants, exceeding 600 horsemen in number. Immediately on arriving, and in his riding gear, he went to pay his respects to the Queen Mother, the King having gone out hunting. Her Majesty received him very graciously, and the whole Court in like manner evinced great satisfaction for the coming of his Excellency, no person of any condition soever failing to go immediately to pay him their respects. M. d'Aumale [Claude de Lorraine] also arrived, and to-morrow the Marshal de St. Andre is expected. Yesterday one of the chief gentlemen of the King of Navarre arrived at the Court to inform his Majesty that he could not be here at the time appointed him, as he was so far away; so they immediately despatched M. de Carrouges to the said King to tell him to make the journey as speedily as possible. In the meanwhile the intimation made to all the members of the Privy Council to be at the Court on the 20th instant has been prolonged till the end of the month.
On the day before yesterday the English Ambassador, by order of his Queen, went to tell the Cardinal of Lorraine, that it having been settled by the treaty of agreement, that two months after its date both their Majesties were to ratify it, Queen Elizabeth wished to know, the time being so far advanced, what persons King Francis intended to send, that her Majesty might also make her election. The Cardinal answered him that his Majesty having been unable conveniently to confer with Jean de Monluc, Bishop of Valence, and M. de Larochefaucauld, who had returned from England, he was then undecided about this election, but that he would not fail to comply with his obligation in due time. Throckmorton supposes this delay to be for the purpose of putting his Queen to expense for a longer period, it being known that she will not disarm till the treaty be ratified.
Throckmorton also told me that the son of the King of Sweden would delay his passage to England longer than was expected, his father having determined to abdicate and renounce the kingdom to him, so that he might obtain (habbi) better conditions in his marriage with Queen Elizabeth. To pass this act it was necessary to convoke the Estates of Sweden, which would take a long while, but during this interval both father and son have sent to propose very advantageous terms to the Queen, offering, should her Majesty consent to the marriage, to bind themselves to send to England annually 200,000 crowns, to be expended for the benefit of English subjects, and in time of war to keep 50 armed ships at their own cost, with other particular conditions very profitable for England, which that King defers making known until his coming to her.
On the other hand the Spanish Ambassador in England (fn. 1) has again commenced negotiating in the name of his King in favour of Archduke Ferdinand, but neither with the one or the other, nor with those who speak to her on behalf of the Earl of Arundel, does the Queen go beyond general words. In the meanwhile (as the Ambassador says) her chief ministers and most intimate servants cannot yet well comprehend towards whom she is most inclined.
Melun, 16th August 1560.
[Aug. 19.] Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 191. Paulo Tiepolo, Venetian Ambassador with King Philip, to the Doge and Senate.
The King returned to this city on the 24th ultimo, and on the next morning of St. James's day he went to church with the knights of that Order, all in their long white robes as usual; his Majesty not having yet held a chapter of the said knights, or of the others of Alcantara and Calatrava, as all of them have not yet arrived; but he will hold it one of these days, and in short they will be bound to maintain a certain number of galleys.
The Pope has granted his Majesty power, but with the consent of the Bishops, to sell episcopal fiefs and jurisdictions, yielding an annual rental of 25,000 crowns, the King assigning them double the amount on his Exchequer. These fiefs, being very valuable, are expected to find purchasers at 2,500,000 crowns. The Pope has also granted to his Majesty two-fourths of the “fruits” of priests, to be levied in six years, amounting to 1,100,000 ducats; and the “Cruzada” in like manner for six years, whereas at first he had granted it for three. The latter may yield 1,800,000 crowns, but owing to the heavy incidental expenses, and the payment of 100,000 crowns which will have to be made towards the building of St. Peter's at Rome, the King Catholic will not receive thence more than a million and a half of ducats.
These concessions from his Holiness have all been made for the sake of the fleet; the first, viz., the sale of the fiefs, for the building and fitting-out of the galleys; and the subsidy of the priests and the “Cruzada” for their maintenance and constant pay; as although the Pope did not choose to concede them in perpetuity, as was demanded of him, not to release the King of Spain entirely from having need of the Pontiffs, he says that he and all his successors, for a work so good and beneficial to Christendom, will, with much good will, go on from time to time confirming the same concessions.
From the priests' subsidy and the “Cruzada” they will have a fund of about 450,000 ducats annually; and it is thought that the additional 600,000 ducats required for the pay of the 100 galley crews will be contributed by these Spanish knights of the three orders, so that the deficit would be small.
The King declares that he will at any rate have these 100 galleys, and said particularly to one of the chief personages of this Court, from whom I heard it, that amongst them he means to include some of Genoa, and some of Florence, to keep these principalities bound to his friendship; and that he will not pay any individual for more than a certain number of galleys, apparently to avoid being subsequently compelled to appoint a Captain General against his will; which words seem to relate solely to Gio. Andrea Doria, who occasionally gave it to be understood that unless after the death of Prince Andrea they make him (Captain?) General (Generate), be will renounce this service, which, as he owns many in galleys, is of great account.
His Majesty also said, that besides these 100 galleys, he intends to have 50 others, paid by the kingdoms of Naples and Sicily, so that at any time he may have 50 galleys ready to put to sea; and he will also keep 50 hulls in several places, that they may be ready case of need, to increase the fleet to a total of 200 sail.
If these words proceeded from his Majesty's heart, and were not intended to obtain what he has already obtained from the Pope, and he is intent on these promises, although many difficulties will arise before the completion of so grand a work, nevertheless owing to the many States possessed by him, chiefly situate on the sea, and by reason of his great forces, there is no doubt that he will be able to effect it; and there is already here a Neapolitan who by a writing given to the King, which I have seen, offered to find for him in the Kingdom of Naples as many cavaliers and individuals as at their own cost would in a very short time construct and fit out 60 galleys, provided his Majesty would pay them at the usual rate of 6,000 crowns annually.
Marco dal Zuffo has arrived at this Court, being sent by Cardinal Caraffa to recommend his cause and that of the others to his Majesty; and already their defenders have declared themselves, viz., the King's Confessor (fn. 2) to whom when in Flanders the Cardinal promised for certain to have him made Cardinal, and Don Ruy Gomez, in opposition to the Duke of Alva; and it is also said that Gonzalo Perez will favour the Caraffas.
During the King's absence the Duke of Sessa never went to his Majesty, having at Madrid fallen ill of fever, but he has now returned. During his absence the same persons who accompanied him from Italy, they being chief personages who take part in all the affairs of state in the Milanese, accuse him of having shown the same imprudence in Spain as at Milan, and that his bad mode of negotiating had put himself and everything else to confusion, so that he feigned indisposition, and could not determine on coming to the Court. He had presented some of his accounts for expenses incurred, which were beyond measure exorbitant, having fledged for that purpose a very great quantity of the state revenue; so they sent to Milan for information, and made an inquiry unknown to him, which he deeply resented; but now that he has returned to the Court the King seems so gracious that he hopes for the best possible decision.
Your Serenity will have already heard of the death of the Queen Regent of Scotland, and that the peace between France and England, (fn. 3) of which there are as yet no particulars, has been concluded, it being only heard that it is very disadvantageous for the French.
The galleys of Spain are to join the others now in Italy. On board these galleys there are some twenty-five Greeks, your Serenity's subjects, who went as volunteers to serve in various capacities as mariners, but being very dissatisfied, five of them came to me asking for advice with regard to obtaining payment, they being heavy creditors. I replied that the best advice I could give them would be, that, having such ample means near home for employment on board your Serenity's large fleet, and the many vessels you and your subjects have at sea, they should not come to such remote parts. Their rejoinder was, that they would free themselves as soon as they could, and even if unable to obtain their arrears, they were determined to re-enter your Serenity's service.
The King of Tunis, this King's feudatory, is rendering much assistance to the Turkish fleet at Gerbes.
[Toledo, 19th August 1560.] (fn. 4)
[Italian; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
Aug. 28. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 192. Paulo Tiepolo, Venetian Ambassador with King Philip, to the Doge and Senate.
The King has been four days at the monastery of San Juan de los Reyes, built of yore by the King Catholic, and held chapters of the knights, requiring them to contribute for fitting out galleys, and for service at Oran against the infidels, according to the obligation wherewith they were instituted and endowed with such vast revenues; so they are now consulting together about these matters, and about some regulation of their statutes.
The Ambassador Vargas writes a report from Rome that the King Catholic had procured the imprisonment of the Caraffas at the very time when he was showing himself favourable to the Cardinal, (fn. 5) by rewarding him, and promising much to the Duke. (fn. 6) Vargas added that he had moved in their favour in order to remove this suspicion. These words are written by him artfully, and, as it is said, with the counsel of Cardinal Farnese, (fn. 7) the matter being reduced to a point of honour. I understand that the King has been persuaded to favour their cause a s much as he can.
The Marquis of Montebello (fn. 8) is come hither to obtain the protection of his Majesty.
The Ambassador from Florence has informed the King that the Pope desired to make Don Garcia, the son of the Duke, Captain-General on the sea, and that the Duke requests his Majesty's advice on this proposal. T hear on good authority that his Majesty's reply was that he had always desired the Dukes advantage, but that the Duke should beware of putting Don Garcia too far forward. This unexpected reply, contrary to all the Duke's wishes, and somewhat pungent, pierced the Ambassador to the heart, so that he told several persons that Don Garcia., seeing the small account in which he was held here, would become a Frenchman, and though no importance is attached to the Ambassador's words, yet they cause great irritation, and much abuse of the Duke.
It is heard that sixteen galleys of Spain, which have been able to effect their repairs, are already on their voyage to Italy to join the others.
The Cardinal of Urhino (fn. 9) sent lately an agent to this Court to negotiate about some 10,000 crowns demanded of him at Naples for the Duchy of Sora, and the King has been pleased to show him favour therein. According to report the Duke of Urbino, his brother, was the cause of the Cardinal's having sent this individual, not so much by reason of the negotiations importance, as because in this way the Cardinal might become obliged to his Catholic Majesty's party, whereas previously he seemed to depend on that of France.
Four ships have arrived at Lisbon from the Indies with a cargo of 17,000 quintals of pepper, but little other spices and few drugs. They bring word that another ship in their company was lost.
Ten ships have also arrived at Seville from New Spain with 230,000 ducats for the King, and a large sum for private individuals; and these vessels are also well laden with several sorts of merchandise.
The day before yesterday Monsignor Santa Croce, the Nuncio destined for Portugal arrived, and Don Juan Garcilasso de la Vega returned from France, as also Don Juan Pacheco from England, they having gone to those countries to treat the agreement.
The Papal Nuncio here has obtained licence from the King for the sister of the Duke of Montalto to marry the Pope's nephew, Hannibal Altemps, though the Spanish Ministry is displeased, because the licence was demanded after the conclusion of the marriage.
On the clay before yesterday, his Majesty determined to send his master of the horse and councillor Don Antonio de Toledo, a leading man, to France, it is said, about matters of religion, to the end that they may not hold the National Council in that Kingdom. But besides this, his mission is attributed to many other causes, amongst which I have heard that he may possibly be instructed to entertain the negotiation for the marriage of the French King's sister to Don Carlos, which was commenced when the Count de Feria on his way from Flanders passed through the Court of France, where something was said to him about it; but the Prince, as already written by me, is in a very bad state of health, and many persons think his life is in danger; others also say that Don Antonio, after having been to France, will go to Flanders to devise some arrangement with those provinces, which misconduct themselves, and fail to make due payment of the subsidies, complaining that the Spanish garrisons had not been removed, according to the promise given by the King to the States.
It is also reported that he will cross over to England to dissuade the Queen from marrying the son of the King of Sweden, as she seems inclined to do, nor would King Philip approve of this union with such a Lutheran Prince, who is richer than any other one in Christendom. Bui all this is rumour, except the alleged cause of religion, which is universally supposed to be true, though it is not the only one.
What I can indeed assure your Serenity is, that Don Antonio, although a great personage by reason of his nobility and wealth, and above all from the favour shown him by the King, with whom he confers at all hours, is not considered by anyone to be an able negotiator.
In this city last Sunday the King and Queen were present at a bull bait and cane game, performed by the chief lords of this Court, which succeeded very well; and there was a dance at the palace in the evening, when two companies of very sumptuously clad mashers made their appearance, the chief of one of them being his Majesty's son, Don Carlos, that he might thus have some diversion, but on entering the ball room, he unmasked instantly.
The Count de Tendiglia has had permission to return [from Rome], and it continues to be said that Vargas will be removed from the embassy there, but no one has been elected in his stead. Vargas demanded a subsidy for the journey he is about to make when following the Pope to Bologna, and a very considerable one will be granted him.
Toledo, 28th August 1560.
[Italian; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
Aug. 30. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 193. Giovanni Michiel, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The French Ministry's suspicion of some strange commotion and conspiracy about to take place on account of religion, and of the hatred and indignation conceived against them, as they were warned from many quarters, has in part come to light, causing them so much the more anxiety as they have already apparently discovered that this stir does [not] proceed from popular leaders (homini populari) and from private gentlemen, like the Amboise conspiracy, but that it comprises the chief personages of the kingdom, including Knights of St. Michael and Princes, there being already in prison the Vidâme de Chartres, who is considered to be on a par with the Princes, and from his invariable courage has always been employed in the most honourable offices. Last night he was arrested in Paris at his own lodging, a fact of such great importance that I give the particulars as told me on the best authority.
There arrived lately at the Court a Basque gentleman, a native of a province on the frontiers of Navarre, who was quite unknown to people in general, but the moment he appeared the Duke de Guise suspected him, and to ascertain who he was, whence he came, and what he was doing, the Duke desired one of his most trusty gentlemen to learn all about him, in which he succeeded so well, that having formed an intimacy with him very speedily he heard that this Basque had been sent privily by the King of Navarre to hear all that was to be treated at this conference of the Princes, and to let him know the names of all those who were to attend it, and what was said on the subject. The Basque had also brought letters to many of these Princes, and in particular to the Constable and his sons, from whom he had already got the reply, and hearing that the conference was to end soon, he was about to return, but having some business in Paris he should take that road. All this being told to the Duke, he desired his gentleman to accompany him, and they went together to the lodging of the Vidâme, where the Basque was received and lodged; and as the Basque was returning postwise to the King of Navarre, the Duke de Guise had him and his valises with the letters and writings seized at Etampes, and sent immediately to the Court, not more than eight leagues distant from that place. In the valise many letters were found addressed both to the King of Navarre and to his brother the Prince of Condé, and amongst them were those of the Constable and his son, Montmorency, though they were merely letters of ceremony; but those of importance were what the Vidâme wrote to the aforesaid Prince, part in cipher and part without, but so long and diffuse as clearly to indicate that for many months there had been an intrigue (pratica) between the said Prince of Condé and the Vidâme for a conspiracy and insurrection, and that it was ready to be put in execution from day to day.
Shortly after the letters the Basque prisoner arrived at Fontaine-bleau under custody from Etampes, and being immediately examined by the Cardinal of Lorraine, he not only confirmed the contents of the letters, but much more that had passed through his hands, which the Cardinal did not then care to know. Though it was past ten at night the Cardinal went to the Queen Mother, telling her all that had happened. She sent to inform the King, and, to proceed more maturely, summoned the Constable and the Chancellor [Michel de I'Hôpital], who had long been in bed; and when all were assembled they consulted till one a.m., when they sent postwise to Paris the Captain of the Guard, the Provost of Paris, who was at Court, and the Seneschal of Agenois, all persons of importance, to arrest the Vidâme in Paris, giving them a letter to the Parliament there to have the city archers and all the other guards. Such was their speed that they found the Vidâme in bed, and when the Captain of the Guard told him that he was the King's prisoner, without discomposing himself in the least he said, “Bring hither my clothes; I am very glad, for the King will now be convinced of what he has hitherto doubted;” and having dressed himself quietly, he was taken to the Bastille, where he is in close custody. The arrest of this personage has alarmed everybody, it being feared that he is not alone but has many followers, and that he may compromise a multitude of noblemen and persons of condition, his friends and relations; he being cousin-german of Maligni, the author (autore) of the Amboise conspiracy, and of his brother, and the Vidâme not having any children they are his sole heirs.
Owing to this event the Court in two days will quit Fontainebleau, where they had intended to remain till after All Saints' day, and will go to St. Germain, that in case of any insurrection, instead of being in an open place like Fontainebleau, they may be protected by a castle with moats, which is more easily guarded and fortified; and thither they will convey the Vidâme and examine him.
On the first day of the conference of the Princes a very daring act was committed by the Admiral, (fn. 10) who, before the King and the others took their seats, presented to his Majesty with his own hand two petitions, or requests, as they are called here, which being read purported that the kingdom petitioned his Majesty, in the matter of religion, to concede the petitioners two churches in two parts of the kingdom for greater convenience, that they might there exercise their rites and ceremonies as private congregations without being molested by any one, and meetings would thus be obviated. Although the King urged the Admiral repeatedly to say from whom he had received the requests, he denied all knowledge of them upon oath, which yet more provoked the King, who surlily ordered him to take his seat, and called upon them (the Princes) to commence proposing the object of the conference.
On the other days much was said about religion, especially by M. [Charles] de Marillac, Archbishop of Vienne, to his infinite praise, and to the admiration of everybody, from what he said and his suggestions. It was settled at any rate to hold the “Council National” at Paris on the 10th January, waiting to see whether during this interval the Council General will be held; and it was determined to send the Bishop of Valence [Jean de Monluc] to the Pope, to give him account of this necessary resolve.
The decree for the bishops and all curates to go and reside at their churches was confirmed, the bishops being prohibited in the future to proceed against any one in the matter of religion, except the preachers, and the persons in whose houses the meetings (ls congregationi) are held, tacitly permitting the others to live in their own way, which is interpreted as a virtual “interim.”
Melun, 30th August 1560.


  • 1. Alvarez de Quadra, Bishop of Aquila.
  • 2. Francisco Bernardo de Fresneda. (See Foreign Calendar, “Mary,” entry No. 734. date Brussels, 14th March, 1558, p. 364.)
  • 3. Peace was proclaimed in England on the 17th July 1560. (See “Foreign Calendar,” under that date, p. 178.)
  • 4. The end of this despatch is wanting. The date is supplied from the following despatch.
  • 5. Carlo Caraffa.
  • 6. Giovanni Caraffa, Duke of Paliano.
  • 7. Alessandro Farnese, brother of the Duke of Parma.
  • 8. Antonio Caraffa, brother of the Duke of Paliano, and of Cardinal Carlo Caraffa.
  • 9. Giulie Feltrio della Rovere, made Cardinal at the age of 13 on the 27th July 1547, by Pope Paul III. (See Cardella, Vol. 4. p. 287.)
  • 10. Gaspar, Comte de Coligny, Seigneur de Chastillon, Admiral of France.