Venice: March 1561

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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'Venice: March 1561', in Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 7, 1558-1580, ed. Rawdon Brown, G Cavendish Bentinck( London, 1890), British History Online [accessed 18 July 2024].

'Venice: March 1561', in Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 7, 1558-1580. Edited by Rawdon Brown, G Cavendish Bentinck( London, 1890), British History Online, accessed July 18, 2024,

"Venice: March 1561". Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 7, 1558-1580. Ed. Rawdon Brown, G Cavendish Bentinck(London, 1890), , British History Online. Web. 18 July 2024.

March 1561

March 1. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 241. Michiel Surian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
After the departure of the Cardinal of Lorraine the Duke de Guise, his brother, increased daily in repute, both on account of his goodness and valour, as also by the favour of the Queen-mother, and moreover because as Grand Master he has likewise 'precedence over the entire household of the King, and also custody of the castle and palace, where the King and Queen and the Council reside, all the gentlemen of the Court being his followers and obeying him. So the King of Navarre w as persuaded that this w as not only discreditable to him, but also endangered his life, and hence has resulted a rupture of the friendship formed between the King of Navarre and the Duke de Guise at Orleans, where one day, amongst their other warm expressions, when the Duke de Guise said he had a mind to retire to his home, the King of Navarre, who did not wish him by any means to depart, swore to him that if he went away, he, the King of Navarre, would also follow him. But this commencement of distrust having arisen between them, every accident, as usual, was interpreted according to the passions of the persons concerned; and a report circulating that the government of Champagne was vacant, the King of Navarre intended it for his brother the Prince of Condé, but heard that the Queen had already promised it to the Duke de Nemours, which the King of Navarre considered an injury to him, both because the Queen had decided without his advice, and also because the Duke de Nemours is not his friend, owing to the lawsuit between him and the sister of M. de Rohan, the nephew of the King of Navarre. To this must be added that the Privy Council having determined lately that all the bishops, including the cardinals, were to go to their sees, all obeyed spontaneously, and among the first the Cardinal de Bourbon, whose example will be followed by the Cardinal de Châtillon, the Queen willing it so; but she has not chosen Cardinal Tournon to leave the Court, owing to the constant need she has of his counsel, which the King of Navarre also supposes has been done to favour the Duke de Guise, by making the Cardinals Bourbon and Châtillon depart as the Cardinal of Lorraine departed.
A fourth incident has also occurred. The case of the Prince of Condé having to be treated by the Parliament here in Paris, the Queen thought fit to have the matter adjourned, desiring to settle it otherwise than juridically, for if condemned, the Prince and all the family would be disgraced; and if acquitted, he would never rest till those who had slandered him were condemned to the same penalty; so the Queen, to avoid all scandal, caused a letter to be signed in the King's name, charging the Parliament not to proceed further without a fresh order. This letter having come to the knowledge of the King of Navarre, was more resented by him than all the rest, he considering it a great offence to sign letters with the King's name, without first communicating them to him, as he, being next in blood, was entitled to the first place in the Privy Council.
From these and other causes the King of Navarre was at open dissension with the Duke de Guise, and the matter being public at the Court, both one and the other went about with followers, and cautio sly. The King of Navarre remonstrated about everything with the Queen Mother, complaining that he had been held in small consideration, although he was greatly deserving of her Majesty, having been more than any one else the author and cause of maintaining her in her present state and greatness; and in conclusion he said he would not tolerate that the Duke de Guise should have the keys and custody of the Castle, and authority to command the household, nor keep the seal with which all letters in the King's name were signed, and in short that the Duke should be everything, while he who was King of Navarre, Prince of the blood, and next to the Crown, should be nothing; and that he was determined either that the Duke de Guise should absent himself from the Court, or that he and all his friends would leave it. The Queen endeavoured with all possible address to appease him, answering each of his complaints one by one. And with regard to the first, she said that the Duke de Guise could not be deprived of the government of the household, as he was the Grand Master, and that if the King of Navarre were not content that the keys of the Castle should remain in the Duke's hands, her Majesty would have them carried every evening into the chamber of the King, her son. Concerning the affair of the Duke de Nemours, she said that King Henry and King Francis had promised him heretofore the first vacant government in France, and that for his deserts she did not think fit to fail him. As to the Cardinals, the decision was not hers, but was made with the general consent of the whole Council, and she thought it disadvantageous for France to let Cardinal Tournon depart, though he himself wished to pass the rest of his life in retirement, and that she thought not to err by availing herself of the advice of so great a man; and that if the King of Navarre wished his brother, the Cardinal de Bourbon, likewise to remain, no one would compel him to depart, he being a member of the Council of Affairs. As to the letter, she said she had caused it to be written in order to adjust the affairs of the Prince of Condé to his honour and to the satisfaction of everybody, and that the seal was in her hands and not in those of the Duke de Guise. In conclusion, she prayed the King of Navarre to tranquillise himself with the firm opinion that he was esteemed by her and by everybody as the Prince that he was, both because of his nearness in blood, and because his affection for the King and for herself entitled him to universal love and honour.
The Duke de Guise, having heard that the King of Navarre had it at heart to make him quit the Court, said in the presence of gentlemen who repeated it, that he was not to blame in the least for the stir made by the King of Navarre, and that he could say conscientiously that he never gave cause for it, but that all these things came from Cardinal Châtillon and the Admiral; and that for himself he had often wished to leave the Court and go and reside at home, as known to the King of Navarre, who more than once when at Orleans made him remain, and that lately he sent his wife to his Castle of Nanteuil, with the firm intention of going there himself in three or four days; but on hearing that it was sought to expel him by these bravadoes he had changed his mind and would no longer depart by any means, unless the Queen commanded him so to do, for the service of the King his lord; as he would obey her, although even her Majesty could have no authority to do so, he exercising his charges as honourably as anyone else, nor could he be deprived of them. This determination of the Duke de Guise, coupled with the reply of the Queen, proving to the King of Navarre that he could not execute his project, made him determine to depart at any rate; and it is heard that two days ago his. effects were sent away, that he also was to depart with all his attendants, that he would be followed by the Constable and all that party, and that he would come to Paris.
Paris, 1st March 1561.
[Italian; deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
March 3. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 242. Michiel Surian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The dissensions and reports alluded to in my letter of the first, have taken a better turn than was expected, for everything is arranged, and will remain thus, till some fresh occasion for a rupture presents itself. The King of Navarre never departed after all, but on the contrary sent back his baggage waggons, which had proceeded as far as Melun, and he is again united with the Duke de Guise as if there had never been any discord between them. This reconciliation may cause some trouble to Cardinal Châtillon and his brother the Admiral, the general opinion being that they, either of their own accord, or counselled by others, owing to their great hatred of the Guise family, had caused this confusion; but the facility of this nation to pardon and to be reconciled makes them very secure. The first cause of quieting this discord was the authority of the most Christian King, who, having been informed of it by his mother, said to the King of Navarre that he marvelled greatly that he who was his uncle thought of deserting him at so tender an age; and then, calling the Constable “Mon comper,” as King Henry did, he said, that although young he nevertheless knew what services the Constable had rendered to his father, and how much King Henry loved him; adding, “I also know and remember the oath you took to me, whereby I command you not to leave me.” These words affected both of them; so that the Constable interceded as peacemaker, and the King [of Navarre] allowed himself easily to be persuaded, everything being thus arranged on the last day of last month, and a convention was made between the members of the Council, as it were a league, whereby they all promise to oppose the first person who shall ever again give cause for disturbance; and although it was believed at the Court that the Queen had resigned the seal to the King, to give him the pre-eminence of signing everything, yet I am assured that it is not true, and that she chooses to keep it herself, because by ceding it, she would cede all her authority and remain a cipher (niente).
Endeavours have indeed been made to settle the case of the Prince of Condé and to find means to terminate it, to his own honour, and to the satisfaction of the others; it being also supposed that the King of Navarre made all this stir to obtain the acquittal of his brother; but the means whereby to effect this result have not yet been decided. For this purpose the Prince of Condé is expected at the Court, but being mettlesome and restless, and very different from his brother, who is most affable and pliant, his presence may generate some difficulties not so easily to be dissipated. The Duke de Guise professes to have always defended the Prince of Condé, and as his crime was proved by the trial, he recommends that all documentary evidence be burnt, and that no further mention be made of it; his opinion being that legally he cannot be acquitted, as the trial proves him to have caused the insurrection at Lyons last year.
This course does not entirely please the Prince's party, it seeming to them unsafe, and that the ordinary way would be the best, viz., to give the Prince opportunity to justify himself hoping that he will easily prove his innocence.
Paris, 3rd March 1561.
[Italian; deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
March 5. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 243. Michiel Surian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The English Ambassador resident here and the other English Ambassador (fn. 1) who was sent to the new King, from what they themselves say, fearing lest the change of so many kings in France prevent the execution in due season of the Articles of Cateau Cambresis agreed to in 1559, said as it were of their own accord, at their conference with the Queen Mother and the Council, that to remove any sinister opinion which might arise in the world owing to past events, it would be fitting to confirm the Articles, that everyone might be certain of the good understanding between these two kingdoms. The Queen replied in general and loving terms, that as for herself she considered peace well established, nor did she believe that it required any other ratification, and that here they will omit no opportunity to let the world know the good friendship of France with England; which words by no means relieved the Ambassadors from their doubt.
They also urged the Queen of Scotland to ratify the articles agreed to heretofore with the kingdom of Scotland, under favour of the Queen of England, which King Francis never ratified, but she made answer, that during her Consort's life everything was governed by his counsel, and now that he was dead, before treating anything, she must make a Council of those of her kingdom, with which she must rule; but affairs being in such a state that she does not know how her subjects are inclined towards her, she cannot for the present form any resolve in this matter. The English Ambassadors also say that the Bastard of Scotland will soon be here, he coming in the name of the kingdom to treat with her.
My Secretary has arrived here from the Court. The only news he brings is that owing to the discord between the King of Navarre and the Duke de Guise, everybody, both at the Court and here, anticipated a civil war, as although the King of Navarre has more followers in France, the Duke de Guise nevertheless has the favour of Lorraine, which is very near, and had the King of Navarre departed, the whole Court would have retired to St. Germain, the Queen and the King considering it more secure; so the agreement that took place relieved this unfortunate kingdom, which is harassed in so many quarters, from a great peril.
Paris, 5th March 1561.
[Italian, the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
March 6. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 244. Paulo Tiepolo, Venetian Ambassador with King Philip, to the Doge and Senate.
Count Hannibal Altemps has received the presents sent from Rome by the Pope for the King and Queen, and the Princess [Joanna of Austria, Princess of Portugal, and sister of King Philip], consisting of six antique busts, part of bronze and part of marble; two tables made of many stones of divers colours, very well designed and wonderfully blended; two wooden oratories, ornamented with many figures in wood, bronze, and silver, of most delicate workmanship; a coffer of rock crystal; a small bucket of the same material, wrought with very minute figures; a cross of crystal; and many other crystal vases, wonderfully fashioned; which things having been injured on the way, his Lordship is now having them restored by an artist whom he brought with him from Rome.
I am informed on good authority that the Queen of England has become indisposed (è fatta indisposta), and that the physicians greatly fear her malady to be dropsy; a disease peculiar to that Royal family, as it is said that King Edward and Queen Mary died of it; so it is told me that some chief personages of the kingdom, who are most akin to her, are aspiring to that crown, and that some one has already commenced negotiating with this King to favour his designs.
In the Provinces of Flanders the archbishoprics and bishoprics are about to be erected, and King Philip has already nominated certain persons to many of these, and by this time, at Rome, the confirmation will have been made, which it was endeavoured to pass as secretly as possible, lest it be thwarted by the Archbishops of Cologne, Treves, and Rheims, and by the Bishop of Liège and others who are thus deprived of their respective jurisdictions.
It was intended to attach to each Bishop three Doctors of Divinity, by whose counsel the Bishops were to provide for all matters concerning religion; to which the Flemings object, lest each bishop should become a tribunal of the Inquisition; and I am assured that in the Council of the Governess one of its chief members said' boldly that they had never in the time of the Emperor tolerated the Inquisition in those Provinces, and that they would now still less endure its introduction in this way.
Toledo, 6th March 1561.
[Italian; the portion in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
March 13. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 245. Paulo Tiepolo, Venetian Ambassador with King Philip, to the Doge and Senate.
Three days ago the King accompanied by the Queen returned to this city, her Majesty from the inadvertency of her stirrup-man having fallen from her horse; and lest the heavy fall might do her harm the physicians blooded her, but she received no further injury and is well. The King has sent Don Juan de Ayala to Rome, to tell the Pope that the King not having read in the bull of the Council any express declaration that it was to be a continuation and not a fresh indiction (inditione), his conscience remained in great suspense as to what he ought to do; so he prays his Holiness not to decide until it be known what course Germany and France may take. In the meanwhile his Majesty, to show the respect in which he holds the Pope's exhortations, will have the jubilee for the Council published as it stands, and the bishops informed that they are to go to Trent whenever required to do so.
I have heard from the Papal Nuncio that this decision of his Majesty does not please him, as he would have wished King Philip to submit himself unreservedly to the Pope, which he had earnestly entreated his Majesty to do, but could obtain nothing further.
On the other hand the French Ambassador complained of their endeavouring to protract the matter, declaring positively that it might make France determine to hold the National Council, as he does not see what other reason Spain can have to seek the prorogation of the Council General, unless it be the benefit it would afford to France and Germany.
In this city last Sunday, an “auto” of the Inquisition was performed with the usual solemnities. Four individuals were burnt as Lutherans, viz., two Spaniards, one Fleming and one Italian, and eighteen more sentenced to other penalties, including a noble German baron, a youth, page to the King, for having spoken licentiously about the affairs of the faith; and a Spanish cavalier of the Toledo family, with an annual rental of three thousand crowns, having falsely accused his wife to the Inquisition, for the sake of getting rid of her, has been sentenced to be flogged, and to serve three years as a galley slave.
In Seville the Inquisition has arrested Friar Domenego de Valtanas, of the Order of St. Dominick, in the Province of Andalusia, a man eighty years of age, and of greater authority and reputation for sanctity than any one else in Spain, so that he had a very great concourse of almost all the nobility of the country who went to him to confess. He has been convicted of opinions contrary to those held by the Church, as follows: that he had given to a young lady of noble birth a little book, containing all that he meant her to believe, with which book the young lady shut herself up in her room every day, and remained there a long while, which her father having remarked several times, he asked her what she was doing, and not receiving a satisfactory answer he had her watched, and discovering that she read a book, he asked her what book it was, to which she replied that it was a book about things for which she would not refuse to die; so her father then knew that it must be an heretical book. As this affair did not pass so secretly as not to be heard by some of the household, he, fearing that some one might accuse him to the Inquisition, the penalty being as great for those who do not accuse of what is known to them, as for the person who offends, in order to guarantee himself against confiscation of property to the utter ruin of his family and all his children, determined to accuse his own daughter, who, being put in prison, confessed that she had received the book from the friar. It is therefore greatly feared that the friar must have distributed many of these books amongst his penitents, and that this mischief may have spread amongst many nobles and chief personages.
Toledo, 13th March 1561.
[Italian; the portion in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
March 18. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 246. Paulo Tiepolo, Venetian Ambassador with King Philip, to the Doge and Senate.
The creation of Cardinals (fn. 2) has given great satisfaction to this Court, as besides the election of the brother of the Marquis of Pescara, (fn. 3) the dependants of the King of Spain in this election are twelve in number, deducting only the two Venetians and the Pole, (fn. 4) who are put neutral, and the French Ambassador Salviati (fn. 5) and the brother of the Duke of Ferrara [Luigi d'Este], who are French. Last Sunday the Count Hannibal Altemps bore in state the holy sword which the Pope has sent to his Majesty, and the Nuncio, after singing the Mass, gave it to the King, who, coming from under his canopy, received it on his knees.
The other presents were made to his Majesty, to the Queen and Princess, being much admired, and gratefully accepted, but the custom-house officers sent to demand the duty appertaining to them, and valued the things at 100,000 ducats.
Toledo, 18th March 1561.
March 26. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 247. Paulo Tiepolo, Venetian Ambassador with King Philip, to the Doge and Senate.
The jubilee Bull for the Council was published this week, and on Tuesday a general procession was made in the Cathedral Church, which was attended by his Majesty, some principal bishops being called to the Court to consult about this matter.
It is reported that his Majesty has elected his natural brother, Don John of Austria, General of the Sea (per General da Mar) and Viceroy of Sicily; giving him two lieutenants, Don Garcia de Toledo, son of the late Viceroy of Naples, to serve at sea, and Don Luis Quixada, his governor, who, by the Emperor's order, educated him from boyhood, to serve on land; but nothing has yet been notified to Gian Andrea Doria, which causes general suspense.
The additional particulars heard by me about the mission to Rome of Don Juan de Ayala relate to the affairs of Navarre, which greatly trouble this King, who would wish to be assured that henceforth that place at the Council and at Rome will not be given to the Ambassadors of M. de Vendôme, as to Ambassadors of Kings.
When King Philip came to Spain, in writing to the aforesaid M. de Vendôme, he styled him King, having his letters addressed “To the King”; but subsequently having heard that these letters were exhibited at Rome by the Ambassadors of Monsieur de Vendôme, King Philip no longer chose to call M. de Vendôme King, and I hear that three months ago, when his Majesty sent Don Juan Manrique to France, he gave him letters of credence addressed “M. de Vendôme” who would not receive them, and told Don Juan that he was to return the letters, as they were not addressed to him. I also hear that Juan de Ayala will have to speak to his Holiness about the precedence with France, and complain to him about what has taken place hitherto.
The King is now sending Don Luis de Vargas as Ambassador to Portugal. The rider of that Kingdom was Queen Catherine, sister of the late Emperor, and grandmother of the infant King, but she has retired to a convent, partly from devotion, and partly from melancholy, leaving the entire government in the hands of the Cardinal Many of the principal persons in Portugal have therefore intimated., to the Princess, King Philips sister, and mother of the [young] King, that they would wish her to come and take charge of Portugal and of her son, but she does not wish to depart from this Court at present; for I hear that not only her hope of marrying Don Carlos continues, but even should this fail, she does not despair of becoming the wife of the King of France; so, refusing for other reasons to go to Portugal at present, she makes the King her brother apologise for her with the principal Portuguese, giving them expectation of her going thither shortly. Besides this, King Philip would wish to marry a daughter of the King of Bohemia to the King of Portugal, both to benefit his niece, and to bind the King of Bohemia to him. Don Luis de Vargas has orders to propose this marriage to the Cardinal and the principal Portuguese; the Princess, who is mother of the King and aunt of his proposed consort, being already well disposed to it. King Philip, for the need of this present year, also requests the galleys of Portugal. The French Ambassador here tells me that Baron Polvilliers, who had been sent by the Emperor to propose the eldest daughter of the King of Bohemia as wife for his most Christian Majesty, has been successful; and the Ambassador expressed great satisfaction with this marriage, commending the daughter beyond measure for rare beauty, and he also considers her age suitable to that of the King.
Toledo, 26th March 1561.
[Italian; the portion in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
March 31. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 248. Paulo Tiepolo, Venetian Ambassador with King Philip, to the Doge and Senate.
His Majesty is sending the brother of Don Ruy Gomez, Marquis of Favara, to the Duke of Savoy, to Genoa, and to the Duke of Florence, to ask all those potentates to accommodate him for the present year with their galleys, and to send them to Messina, where he intends to assemble the fleet.
It is heard from Portugal that that kingdom, having accepted the Council, has ordered the Bishops to go to Trent, and that some of them have already departed, and the others will go after Easter.
This Government is informed that some Breton ships have assembled to lay in wait for King Philip's Indiamen and to capture them, as they are said to be freighted with a great quantity of gold and silver; so eight thousand ducats have been sent to arm two galleasses, which are kept at the Gut of Gibraltar, that they may convoy the aforesaid ships; and it is said that the Bretons who planned this expedition have an understanding with the King of Navarre.
Owing to the small force of troops in Spain which could be sent to defend Italy against the Turkish fleet, the King has desired Sigismondo Gonzaga to raise 1500 Italian infantry with which to garrison Sardinia.
He has also sent hither to tell Gian Andrea Doria to write by this courier to Genoa for his galleys to be put in perfect order, that they may go promptly wherever commanded; and simultaneously he has desired Don Juan de Mendoza, General of the Galleys of Spain, who is here, to take them from the port where they now are, to Messina, or to such harbour as required.
Toledo, 31st March 1561.
[Italian; the portion in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
March 31. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 249. Michiel Surian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Queen of Scotland left the Court for Rheims, and the English Ambassador, who uses great diligence about what may interest his Queen, informs me that they are treating to marry the widow of King Francis to the Prince of Orange, and that the King Catholic favours the negotiation, which, were it to take effect, would cause some jealousy between King Philip and the Queen of England; but apparently this proposal does not please the Duke de Guise, who intends a greater marriage for that Queen. The Ambassador has nevertheless heard that the Duchess of Arschot [Anne de Lorraine], sister of the Prince of Orange, went lately to Rheims with the Queen, which causes a great belief that the matter is far advanced.
I have also heard from the same Ambassador that the Ambassador from Denmark, now at the Court, came to congratulate the King on his accession, and to confirm the friendship of his kingdom with France, for which purpose he proposed the marriage of a sister of the King of Denmark to one of the Princes of this kingdom, to be named by France, and to take for his Sovereign one of these [ladies] of the blood, or else the Queen of Scotland, which is probably his chief object, from the vicinity of Scotland to Denmark. This proposed Danish league with France could produce no other effect than to facílitate the change of religion here, of which there is great danger, the King of Navarre having determined to send forty thousand crowns to be divided amongst those Princes, who all hold these new opinions, and are accustomed to receive pensions from France, which the King of Navarre intends to continue.
Paris, 31st March 1561.
[Italian; deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini]


  • 1. The Earl of Bedford; see before, February 19.
  • 2. This second nomination of Cardinals by Pius IV. took place at Rome on the 26th February 1561. (See Cardella, Vol. 5. p. 9, and Foreign Calendar under that date.)
  • 3. Iñigo Avalos, born at Naples, but styled d'Aragona, though by birth an Italian.
  • 4. Namely Marcantonio Damulla, Bernardo Navagero, and Stanislao Osio, the fellow-student at Padua and the friend of Reginald Pole.
  • 5. Bernardo Salviati, Bishop of Clermont, brother of cardidal Giovanni Salviati.