Venice: September 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.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.

'Venice: September 1561', in Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 7, 1558-1580, (London, 1890) pp. 321-336. British History Online [accessed 1 March 2024]

September 1561

Sept. 14 Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 271. Paulo Tiepolo, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The physicians of Don Carlos, seeing that his quartan ague, which commenced more than two years ago, still continued, and knowing that to stay here in the winter would be hurtful to him, gave advice that he should withdraw to Tarragona or Valenza, where the climate is milder and more suitable to his health; but hitherto no resolution has been formed about this proposal, for although it is well known that the physicians counsel rightly, it is nevertheless taken into consideration that Don Carlos must be attended by a numerous and distinguished company at very great cost; for which reason he did not go away last year, although the physicians in like manner recommended his doing so. In the meanwhile he medicates himself by taking a certain powder boiled in wine, at the suggestion of a soldier, who declared that he had had great experience of it. (Fra tanto egli si medica, prendendo certa polvere in vino boglito, secondo ch'un soldato ha arricordato, affermando haverne havuta grande esperienza.)
The King has of late been several times absent from Madrid for his pleasure, and he returned on Wednesday to be present at the tournament which is to take place to-day.
Some Spanish Bishops have already departed for the Council, and will be followed by all the others, except eleven, who from old age and on other reasonable accounts have just cause for remaining; but the King has not yet named an Ambassador to the Pope, though strongly urged to do so by the Nuncio, saying however that he is about to make the appointment.
Madrid, 14th September 1561.
[Italian; the portion in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
Bequeathed MSS. Portfolio 9. 272. Report of France by Signor Giovanni Michiel, Venetian Ambassador there, 1561.
Unless it otherwise pleases the Almighty, religious affairs will soon be in an evil case in France, because there is not one single province uncontaminated. Indeed in some provinces, such as Normandy, almost the whole of Britany, Touraine, Poitou, Gascony, and a great part of Languedoc, of Dauphiny, and of Provence, comprising three-fourths of the kingdom, congregations and meetings, which they call assemblies, are held; and in these assemblies they read and preach, according to the rites and uses of Geneva, without any respect either for the ministers of the King or the commandments of the King himself. This contagion has penetrated so deeply that it affects every class of persons, and, what appears more strange, even the ecclesiastical body itself. I do not mean only priests, friars, and nuns, for there are but few monasteries that are not corrupted, but even bishops and many of the principal prelates, who hitherto had not shown any such disposition; and it is only on account of the rigorous execution of the law that other persons besides the populace have not disclosed themselves, because they have restrained themselves for the time being from fear of the loss of their property and lives. But your Serenity must learn that while the people and the populace show fervent devotion by frequenting the churches and observing the Catholic rites, all other classes are supposed to be disaffected, and the nobility perhaps more than any other class, and, particularly, persons of forty years of age and under. If these disaffected individuals continue to attend mass and the Divine offices, and externally to practise Catholic rites, they do so for show and from fear; because when they either are, or believe themselves to be, unobserved, they avoid and even fly from the mass above all things, and also from the churches as far as they are able, and more so since it became known that by imprisonment, chastisement, and burnings, no remedy was found. It has now been determined not to proceed against any disaffected persons unless they venture to preach, persuade, and to take part publicly in congregations and assemblies. All other such persons are allowed to live, and some have been set at liberty, and released from the prisons of Paris and of other parts of the kingdom. A great number of these last have still remained in the kingdom, preaching and speaking publicly, and boasting that they have gained their cause against the Papists, as they delight to style their adversaries; so that, now, every one of them is assured against the fear of being questioned; and there exists thus a silent truce, because whilst formerly all suspected persons had to quit the kingdom, and to retire some to Geneva, some to Germany, and some to England, now they not only do not leave the country, but a large number of those who had already emigrated have returned. It was told me, whilst passing through Geneva on my way to Italy, that, after the death of the King, a great number of gentlemen who had fled thither after the conspiracy of Amboise, had come back to France, and, in particular, Monsieur de Mombrun (Montbur), who was the author of the late disturbances in Provence and in Dauphiny, and who had been burnt in effigy; besides these, more than fifty others, who are called ministers, were summoned from various parts of France to travel, and teach and preach the “Word,” for thus they term the Gospels, and their own doctrine. Your Serenity will hardly believe the influence and the great power which the principal minister of Geneva, by name Calvin, a Frenchman, and a native of Picardy, possesses in this kingdom; he is a man of extraordinary authority, who by his mode of life, his doctrines, and his writings, rises superior to all the rest; and it is almost impossible to believe the enormous sums of money which are secretly sent to him from France to maintain his power. It is sufficient to add that if God does not interfere, there is great and imminent danger that one of two things will happen in this kingdom: either that the truce, which is desired and sought publicly, will end by the heretics having churches wherein they can preach, read, and perform their rites, according to their doctrine, without hindrance, and in like manner as they obtained churches by command of the late King, given at Fontainebleau, at the end of August, in compliance with a petition presented to him by the Admiral; or, else, that we shall see an obedience to the Pope and to the Catholic rites enforced, and shall have resort to violence and imbrue our hands in noble blood. For these reasons I foresee a manifest and certain division in the kingdom, and civil war as a consequence; and this will be the cause of the ruin both of the kingdom and of religion, because upon a change in religion a change in the State necessarily follows.
Orleans is called Edward, having received this name after Edward, King of England. He is 8 years old, one year less than the King; he is a very fine child, but of a more grave and subdued nature than the King, and enjoys better health than his Majesty.
The King of Navarre, before he became King, took his title from the House of Vendome, as successor to the states and inheritance of his mother, who belonged to that house, and who married under a contract that her heir should take that title. This house became extinct this very year, on the death of the Vidame of Chartres. The King is 44 or 45 years of age, but his beard has already begun to turn grey. He is a man of good presence, and far more prepossessing in appearance than his brothers, who are undersized and ill made, while the King's stature is above the ordinary height. He is of a jovial and friendly disposition, and has a reputation for courage and ardour, which he has shown in the war, but he is thought to be a better soldier than a captain or general. But still he is ranked amongst the principal commanders of the kingdom, and will not give precedence either to the Constable or M. de Guise. He is a prince of great affability towards everybody indifferently, without any pretence or emptiness about him, and with a free and open manner of proceeding, according to the French custom; and he is so liberal that he is always in debt, and never has money to spend. By these two qualities of liberality and affability he has obtained great popularity with all classes, and especially with the nobles, by whom he is much loved. He has a reputation for a good intellect and power of speech, but as to actions he is reputed vain, inconsiderate, and inconstant, with little ability to undertake great enterprises, or to carry them out with spirit. He has hitherto been under suspicion of being unfriendly to the religion, as one who had been persuaded to abandon the mass and to accept all the rites of Geneva. Still everybody agrees that he has done this more for the purpose of creating a division in the kingdom and for becoming the head of a party, than for any respect or zeal in religious matters; for the very Protestants themselves believe him to be a great hypocrite and deceiver, and that he will fall in with whatever may turn most to his advantage, because he has allowed himself to be persuaded to live according to the Catholic religion, and to send to Rome to render public obedience to the Pope, simply in order not to do less in this way than the Kings of France and of Spain.
The brothers of the King (of Navarre) are the Cardinal of Bourbon and the Prince of Condé, who are opposed to one another in religious opinion. The Cardinal is considered one of the best Catholics in the whole kingdom, while the Prince of Condé, on the other hand, is believed to be most disaffected, and to be agitating as much as he can with all those who are not corrupted, with the intent to form a party in order to defeat the Lords de Guise, against whom he professes open enmity on account of his being excluded from the Government at their instance. He was the author of the insurrections and conspiracies which lately took place under pretext of religion, but which were formed with the object of assassinating the Lords de Guise; and there is no doubt that if the late King had not died, the Prince would have worked much greater evil against many others, and particularly against the house of the Constable, and with danger even to the Constable himself, notwithstanding that the Constable had never done nor even imagined any of the acts that were to be laid to his charge; but the death of the King, as if by a miracle, put an end to all these contemplated proceedings.
The peace concluded with England by the intervention of the ministers of the King of Spain continues outwardly to be observed, but whoever considers the real dispositions of these two nations, who are natural enemies, cannot believe that any good understanding can ever exist between them; and, to say the truth, there is no such understanding, nor will there ever be any, because the English have greatly at heart the recovery of Calais, which they lost in the last war, and the French desire to revenge the injuries which they have received at the hands of the English in the kingdom of Scotland, and which resulted in little less than the complete loss of that kingdom by an agreement which was so disgraceful to the crown of France that the late King refused to ratify it. But as neither the French nor the English are in a position to go to war openly, they, from the necessity of the case, take advantage of the present time of peace, and especially the English, who, from the condition of affairs in Scotland since the death of the late King, have less reason to fear than formerly an open invasion by the French, and await with greater tranquillity the expiration of the seven years for which they have signed peace, when Calais is to be restored, with the alternative of the payment of 100,000 crowns; and according to the position in which these nations will then be, they will either break or maintain the treaty.
Bequeathed MSS. Portfolio 9. 273. Commentary and Observations on the Kingdom of France by Michiel Suriano, Venetian Ambassador at the Court of France, 1561.
The kingdom of France has always possessed adequate means for self-defence. It has never been conquered except by the English, who, after a long and protracted war waged within the very bowels of the land, occupied a great portion of the country; but their victory endured only a short time, for they were deprived not only of those portions of the kingdom which they had held by force, but also of Normandy and Guienne, the ancient patrimony of the Kings of England; and this is the origin of the mortal hatred which exists between the two nations, and which will never end.
The country itself is delightful and pleasing, full of navigable rivers; it has no rugged mountains except at one extremity and on the frontiers, and the centre consists of fertile and cultivated plains and hills, which produce a quantity of wheat, wine, flax, hemp, and other things, which are not only sufficient for the use of the kingdom, but which are exported to Spain, Portugal, Flanders, England, Denmark, and to other countries even more distant. Although there are no mines of gold and silver, as in Germany and Spain, yet in France there is no lack of money received from the various countries which consume its produce; Portugal alone sends to France gold and silver in large quantities; Spain sends the like, notwithstanding that the prohibitions are most strict, because the profit that is derived amounts to 15 or 20 per cent. at the least; and I remember that during the war with the Catholic King, the trade with the Flemings did not cease, from the necessity which compelled the latter to obtain provisions and merchandise from France. It is therefore not surprising that in time of war the French soldiers not only in Italy, but within the kingdom itself, were paid in Spanish crowns and silver reals.
If any authority in France can control the absolute power of the King it is the Assembly of the Three Estates, who represent the whole kingdom, like the Parliament in England and in Scotland and the Diet in Germany. A meeting is held nearly every year, when matters of importance are considered.
With regard to matters of religion, every one knows that the first person [Luther] who revived the old heresies, and who is the origin of the new sects of our time, was a man of humble origin and fortune; nevertheless he has infected so large a part of the world in a few years that he has not only caused religion to be changed in Germany, which was his native country, but also in Denmark, Sweden, Prussia, Poland, and all the northern countries. He has also ruined England and Scotland, corrupted France and Flanders, thrown Italy and Spain into confusion, and his influence extends even to the Indies, so that there is now no part of Christendom which is free from this pestilence; and although from the three branches which this evil root has produced, namely, one of Lutherans, one of Sacramentarians, and one of Anabaptists, thirty and more sects all different one from another have sprung, they nevertheless derive their origin from him alone. The main principles which the authors of the new doctrines profess are, to teach the purity of the Gospel, and to preach Christian liberty.
The Pope is interested in these matters, because these new sects greatly prejudice his authority, and the treaties which he has with this kingdom. The Emperor is also interested on account of Metz, the Queen of England for Calais, and the Duke of Savoy for the fortresses of Piedmont.
The Pope is not considered to have much power in France, because the weakness of the Church was proved during the last war, and because at one time the French thought to occupy Italy if a Frenchman were made Pope. The authority of his Holiness has also greatly declined on account of these new sects, which, although of contrary opinions and various kinds, are united in their endeavour to destroy the Papal authority.
His Holiness, moreover, is not a Prince by blood, and many Catholics consider that the name of the House of Medici is fatal to Christianity, because during the time of Pope Leo Germany was lost, in the time of Clement, England, and now in the time of this Pius, France is threatened with a danger which every one perceives.
The authority of his Holiness having thus declined so greatly, proposals have been discussed to satisfy the heretics, to suspend the payment of annats, and to annul the Pragmatic agreed to many years since.
Bequeathed MSS. Portfolio 11. 274. Report concerning King Philip of Spain, presented by Michiel Soriano (Surian), late Ambassador with his Majesty, to the Most Serene Signory. (fn. 1)
Describes the respective geographical positions of Burgundy and the Low Countries, which latter, he states, are defended by twenty-four so called fortresses, which, however, according to his opinion, do not merit that name.
The Low Countries, by reason of the extent of their frontiers, the multitude of their population, their riches, their proximity to the sea and to rivers, and the beauty and the grandeur of their land, are not inferior to any kingdom in Europe, and there is no other country in the world which is at the same time more sterile and more wealthy. Their sterility is due partly to the climate, which is cold and damp, and partly to want of care on the part of the inhabitants, who busy themselves more with commerce and the arts of manufacture than with agriculture, and the land is allowed to run to pasture and to woods after the manner in which the English deal with their lands.
Their wealth is derived from the large trade which is carried on with England, Flanders, Spain, Germany, Italy, and the whole world, because much merchandise is exported to those countries, and much merchandise imported from them, and these importations are partly consumed at home and partly forwarded elsewhere. The goods which are exported to all parts of the world are tapestries, cloth, and linen.
In these States two causes for apprehension constantly exist; the first is the disposition of the people, who are discontented on account of continual burdens, and because the whole government which was formerly in their hands is now entirely carried on by the Spaniards. The second cause is the power and proximity of the French, who neither in time of war nor in time of peace allow any opportunity to pass which may be useful to them and damaging to their adversaries. Therefore the Emperor, to protect himself against the people, decided to maintain a large force of Spanish soldiers in these provinces, besides the fortress which he made in Ghent, and others which he proposed to make in other places also. And in order to secure himself against the French, he thought it expedient to avail himself of the arms of England, which have always been fatal to the kingdom of France; so he entered into a league with King Henry the Eighth, which bound each party to furnish certain forces for the common defence of their States.
But after the death of Henry and of Edward, and upon the accession of Queen Mary, the Emperor, who always entertained large designs, thought that he might acquire the kingdom of England by contracting a marriage between the Queen and his son; but his expectations were disappointed, because the King (Philip) met with so many obstacles and difficulties that I remember having heard a great personage say that his Majesty daily repented more and more having applied himself to this undertaking, because in that kingdom he had neither authority, obedience, nor peace, but only a title which was empty rather than real. And now, as I am on the subject of England, it seems to me desirable to write some brief details concerning that kingdom.
England is the most wealthy and powerful of all the kingdoms of the north, and although the Crown levies small import duties (usually about 100,000 ducats), it has nevertheless sufficient supplies under ordinary circumstances for the public service both in time of peace and also in time of war, because in time of war subsidies, great and small, are levied upon owners of property according to the assessment (arbitrio) of individuals appointed for that purpose; and the sums fixed are paid within two months without any complaint or the slightest tumult, notwithstanding, as has happened frequently, that the amount has reached one million and a half of gold.
The power of the country consists in its number of warlike men, and in the strength of its fleet, in which respect this kingdom is superior to all its neighbours, and also in the advantage of its natural position, which is easy to defend and difficult to attack. But from the disposition of the people, and from the incapacity of the Council, the kingdom has lately suffered more detriment than advantage from the above forces, for Calais has been lost because no steps were taken in time to provide against the danger, and the country itself is weakened by many intestine discords.
The English are universally partial to novelty, hostile to foreigners, and not very friendly amongst themselves; they attempt to do everything that comes into their heads, just as if all that the imagination suggests could be easily executed; hence a greater number of insurrections have broken out in this country than in all the rest of the world, the most recent of these being that raised by Thomas Stafford, nephew of the Cardinal [Pole], who endeavoured to obtain the kingdom with only sixty men brought by him from France, and he paid the penalty of his temerity.
From the same cause has arisen the change of faith, which is the greatest alteration that could possibly arise in a nation, because besides the offence which is thus committed against our Lord God, a revolution in customs, laws, obedience, and, lastly, in the very State itself, necessarily follows, as has happened in Asia, Africa, Germany, and in a great part of Europe.
Hence also have resulted many depositions of great men and promotions of the unworthy, many imprisonments, exiles, and deaths. It is also a fact, incredible though true, namely, that during the last twenty years three Princes of the blood, four Dukes, forty Earls, and more than three thousand other persons have died by violent death. It may therefore be easily imagined that no foreigner could rule this kind of people, when even their own countrymen are not safe, yet nevertheless the King [Philip] used every endeavour and every means suggested by his father and his friends to acquire authority over them. To obtain their favour he showed himself most gracious towards all; he trusted his own life in their hands; he professed openly to require nothing from them; he spent money freely amongst all classes; he reduced the Council of the Queen from the old number of twenty-five to six confidential persons only; and he did everything he possibly could without resorting to force.
But seeing the suspicion against him continually on the increase, and being aware that if he had no son he would be excluded from the throne, and foreseeing that the people would then incline to the Lady Elizabeth, who is now Queen, the King, in order not to lose with shame that which he could not retain, determined to marry her to the Duke of Savoy, who was a friend and dependent of his Majesty, and thus to preserve the friendship of that kingdom, which he could not otherwise subdue.
This scheme involved two difficulties: the first was to gain the consent of that Queen (Elizabeth), who seemed unwilling to many without the consent of Parliament, which the King her father had ordained as necessary; and Parliament appeared indisposed to consent to her marrying a foreigner. The other difficulty was to induce the Queen (Mary), her sister, to consent that she (Elizabeth) should marry with the hope of [succeeding to] the kingdom. This difficulty appeared greater than the other, because the Queen was very ill-disposed towards her (Elizabeth), and would not acknowledge her as a sister; and as she (Mary) was of a terrible and obstinate nature, neither the King nor any other person dared to reason with her against her will. Therefore a mission was given to the King's Confessor, who was a man of great ability and very acceptable to the Queen, to undertake the business, and he performed this duty with such assiduity and dexterity that he induced her to alter her mind, so that she expressed her satisfaction, and promised to speak to the King on the subject the following evening; but as the Queen then said nothing about it, the Confessor returned to her on the following day, when he found her mind altogether changed, and the blame was laid on Cardinal Pole, who was supposed, because he had not been first consulted, to have persuaded the Queen in a contrary sense.
This Cardinal was a man of singular goodness, who spent his life in the practice and teaching of religion, and his sole object was to confirm that kingdom in the Catholic religion, and to maintain it in tranquillity. Knowing therefore that the Lady Elizabeth must succeed to the throne, and that in order that she might not relapse into the heresy in which she was born and educated, it was imperative to give her a husband who was a Catholic, or who might have authority over her, he, the Cardinal, would not have thought of hindering the 'proposal above mentioned, as he would have been opposing his own chief design.
But this imputation was put upon him because he had always been under suspicion at the court of the Emperor and of the King, for while he held the principal dignity in the kingdom, he had never been willing to use his power to make the King absolute, as the Spaniards desired. Indeed, one day the Bishop of Arras, speaking of the Cardinal, said that the Cardinal neither understood nor knew anything about affairs of State or of the Court, and added that he was good for nothing in that kingdom, either for counsel or for government. This was said because it is the habit of the Spaniards, when they cannot or do not know how to carry their point, always to suspect that they have been thwarted by some one from whom they ought to have had assistance; and therefore they came to the conclusion that this most holy and innocent man could have served their ends if he had wished to do so.
But before they were able to execute their plan, the Queen's state of health became seriously worse, and then, taking advantage of the opportunity, the Count de Feria was sent to England with orders, with or without the consent of the Queen, to acquaint Lady Elizabeth that the King was the author of the project for her aggrandisement; and both the Count and the Confessor intimated that in the matter of such importance no regard was to be paid to the mere displeasure of a woman. But the King lost one point and failed to gain the other, because Queen Mary, partly from rage, which was natural to her, and partly from being compelled to consent against her will, fell into such a state of passion that she departed this life.
Queen Elizabeth, who has succeeded to the throne, owing to her courage and to her great power of mind, being similar to that of the King her father, declines to rely upon anyone save herself, although she is most gracious to all. And while she has not as yet changed the religion for reasons of her own it is nevertheless believed that she favours the sect in which she was born and educated, and, having regard to the individuals whom she has appointed to govern the kingdom, that she will return to the manner in which she lived in the time of King Edward.
With regard to the Queen's marriage, the English are of opinion that she will not marry a foreigner, and if there be a report that she is treating with the Catholic King, his Majesty has no inclination to any such negotiation, partly because he is indisposed to resume his responsibilities in England, and partly for other reasons which are secret.
The only hope his Majesty has of remaining friendly with the Queen is her distrust of the French, who have pretensions to her kingdom through the Queen of Scotland, as a descendant from a sister of King Henry, and the nearest to him in legitimate succession, should the Queen (Elizabeth) be adjudged ineligible by reason of having been born while the legitimate wife of her father was still alive.
I will conclude with the brief observation that the Catholic King, for the preservation of his estates in Flanders, and to keep the sea open between Flanders and Spain, will do his utmost to remain ever at peace with that kingdom, and prevent it falling into the hands of any Prince from whom he might at any time apprehend war.
* * * * * *
The Catholic King was born in Spain in the month of May 1527. He passed his early days and the greater part of his youth in that kingdom, where either from the custom of the country or by the will of his mother, who was a Portuguese, he was educated with all the care and respect which could become the son of the greatest Emperor who ever reigned in Christendom and the heir of possessions of such vast magnitude.
Having been brought up after this manner, his Majesty, when he first quitted Spain, passed through Italy and Germany to Flanders, and conveyed a universal impression that he was of a severe and intractable disposition, and therefore he was not much liked by the Italians, thoroughly disliked by the Flemings, and hated by the Germans. Consequently he was first warned by the Cardinal of Trent, then by Queen Mary, and even more effectually by his father, that a character for severity did not become the ruler of various nations and people of various habits and customs. He thenceforward changed so completely that since he left Spain to proceed to England, he has shown continually such great sweetness of temper, and such affability, as not to be surpassed by any Prince in these respects; and although he preserves his reputation and royal dignity, which are natural to him, in all his actions, the urbanity which his Majesty shows towards all persons is not the less acceptable to them.
His personal appearance, his manly presence, and his manner of speaking sweetly, add to his graciousness of demeanour; and although he is small in stature he is so well made, and his limbs so well proportioned and symmetrical, and he dresses with so much cleanliness and taste, that it is not possible to behold anything more perfect than himself.
His Majesty is of a very delicate constitution, and for this reason he lives invariably according to rule; his habit is to partake only of highly nutritious food, and he abstains from fish, fruit, and similar aliments, which have a tendency to produce ill humours.
He sleeps a great deal, takes little exercise, and his habits of life are of a tranquil character; and although in the field he has shown more readiness and vivacity, it is apparent that he has overcome his nature, which inclined to tranquillity rather than activity, and to repose rather than to fatigue. Hence it follows that although his time of life is apt to engender generous aspirations, and an insatiable desire to govern, his efforts are directed not to increase his possessions by war, but to preserve them by peace; for at the commencement of his reign he made a truce with the King of France, notwithstanding that the Emperor refused his consent, and that the Bishop of Arras publicly condemned it. He regulated the disorders of the ministers of his realms; he restored the courts of law; he expedited the grants of favours and the decrees of justice, which the Emperor was accustomed to delay; he showed liberality towards all persons, and never permitted anyone to leave his presence dissatisfied. But when the Emperor, who had by his great reputation for prudence and experience maintained the authority of his son, departed for Spain, his Majesty was too weak to support so great a burden, and soon found himself involved in serious difficulties, which might have overthrown him had he not been aided by fortune, and the imprudence of his enemies. Then, if he had desired to imitate the Emperor, he might have done so by the strength of his power and the prosperity of his fortune, which are most formidable to the world; but although he resembles his father in his features, in his mode of speech, in his observance of religion, and in his kindness and good faith, he is dissimilar in many other respects which constitute the crowning point of the greatness of Princes. The Emperor delighted in all that pertained to war, but his Majesty has neither knowledge of warlike matters, nor delight in them. The Emperor undertook great expeditions, hut these the King avoids. The Emperor planned great designs, and conducted them with dexterity, and to his great benefit; but the King thinks less of increasing his own power, than of obstructing the power of others. The Emperor never yielded to threats or to fear, but the King under very small apprehensions has given away states.
The Emperor governed entirely according to his own views, but the King governs according to the views of others, and he has no esteem for any nation except the Spanish; he consorts only with Spaniards, and with these only he takes counsel and governs. Moreover, contrary to the custom of the Emperor, he takes no notice of Italians and Flemings, and least of all Germans, and although he retains the chief men of each nation in his kingdom, still it is observed that he declines to admit any one of them to his secret councils, but keeps them only for affairs of war; and he probably acts thus, not so much because he has a good opinion of them, as to prevent their services being employed by his enemies. For this reason he has never summoned either the Duke of Savoy or the Duke Ottavio to the council of state, but only to the council of war, into which all the chief officers, and even the colonels, are admitted. The Duke Ottavio has nicknamed this council “the council of the populace.”
* * * * * *
According to my opinion the kingdom of England will always be in alliance with his Majesty, from fear of being harassed by France, which already possesses Calais and Boulogne this side of England, and the kingdom of Scotland on the other. (fn. 2)
June 8–9. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 275. Marin di Cavalli and Giovanni da Lezze, Venetian Ambassadors Extraordinary in France, to the Doge and Senate. (fn. 3)
Account of their reception by the King of France, the Queen Mother, and the King of Navarre. They say that nothing could have been more satisfactory, and that more honour was done to them than to Don Juan Manrique or to the Earl of Bedford, of whom the former came in the name of the King Catholic, and the latter for the Queen of England, to perform the same offices as they did. (fn. 4)
Paris, 8th and 9th June 1561.
July 3. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 276. Michiel Surian. Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Queen of Scotland, who came to this city a month ago, proposes to depart for her kingdom at the end of this month, and will cross with two galleys of this King's which have been left in the seas of Britany for this purpose, the other galleys returning to Marseilles. In order that she may pass safely, she has caused a request to be made to the Queen of England for safe conduct and secure transit through her (Elizabeth's) seas; and also, if she should be compelled to do so by chance or for any other cause, power to disembark in her (Elizabeth's) kingdom. The English Ambassador here has despatched a man of his by post to that Queen for this purpose. And because she (Elizabeth) has now to make a progress through the kingdom (d'andar hora alia visita del regno), he (the Ambassador) believes she will so arrange her journey that at the time of the passage of this Queen, she will be on the sea-coast where the latter will have to pass, and with this opportunity they will be able to confer together.
It is true that a few days it happened that the Earl of Huntly (Ontele) [George Gordon],—who, with eight others of the principal lords of Scotland, had risen up in favour of the Catholic religion against the Earl of Arran (Haran) and others of the kingdom, who designed to take away the mass and the Catholic rites,—has been compelled to yield to the latter, because they were of greater number and had larger forces; and they have all consented to that opinion, except only three, who have left the kingdom. One of these, called the Earl of Bothwell (Bodivel) [James Hebburn], is expected here in a few days.
This accident may cause the Queen to make a fresh determination as to her departure, because, wishing to keep herself Catholic as she professes to be, she cannot approve this declaration which has been made by that kingdom, nor has she sufficient authority or forces to be able to hinder it. Thus on every hand signs are visible that our Lord God is angry with our errors.
The Abbot Martinengo, as I have already written, was not suffered to pass into England, and the Nuncio here has been, in the name of the Pope, to find the Ambassador of that Queen, and to give him account of the cause for which his Holiness had sent the Abbot, which is, to perform with her Majesty the same office of inviting her to the Council as he has performed with the Emperor, and with this and other Christian Kings; and he (the Nuncio) prayed him (the Ambassador) to induce her Majesty to admit him. The Ambassador promised to write with all possible warmth, but, so far as it can be understood, he is the most cruel adversary that the Catholic religion has in that kingdom (England). (fn. 5)
Paris, 3rd July 1561.
Aug. 16. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 277. Michiel Surian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Queen of Scotland, being at Abbeville, (fn. 6) determined to send again an attendant of hers (un suo) into England, to try once more [to obtain] the safe conduct; and in order to give the Queen less cause for suspicion, she has sent a Scotchman, and not a Frenchman, as she did last time. To facilitate the matter still more, she has sent another person, also a Scotchman, by that road into England, with an order to cause the Estates of the kingdom to be assembled, for the purpose of subscribing to the Articles of the Peace.
The Queen also caused this English Ambassador to be summoned to her, in order that he may send a man of his together with those whom she sends; and she told him that as she had no one here, neither her uncles nor others, who are willing to counsel her, she cannot do otherwise than refer herself to the counsel of her kingdom, and therefore by this gentleman she is sending an order that the people of her kingdom may resolve what seems good to them, as she will approve whatever they shall determine.
Although it is believed that this is a trick (tratto) to facilitate the safe conduct, and the more so as the Queen does not think of awaiting it before embarking, nevertheless the Ambassador professes (mostra) to believe that his Queen will hold this excuse to be just and reasonable, and will satisfy the desire of the Queen of Scotland as being a most just and honourable desire. The Queen (of Scotland) was to embark in a few days.
Paris, 16th August 1561.
Aug. 23. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 278. Michiel Surian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The conference [of the French clergy touching religious affairs] is being held at Poissy. Nothing has been said against the observance of the canons, which are so good and holy; and if their observance had not been interrupted by dispensations and other derogations, perhaps the world to-day would not be in such disorder and confusion as it is. The Nuncios, however—the chief of whom is the Bishop of Viterbo—object to this conference, considering it derogatory to the Papal dignity. They are also afraid that points of doctrine, as well as of discipline, may be discussed; and they have reason to fear this, because all those of the contrary sects desire it, and every day present fresh requests to the King and Council on the subject. Many of these principal lords wish the same thing. For this purpose many persons have already come hither from Geneva, under the safe conduct which was published a month since; among others, one Theodore Beza, first in authority after Calvin, and another who is sent by the Queen of England. There is also expected Peter Martyr, who has had a safe conduct apart, because he is not of the kingdom, but an Italian, and dissents from Calvin; wherefore, if it should be necessary to make a conference, it would have to be made with three parties (bisogneria farlo in terzo). This would be nothing else than holding up the affairs of God to the derision of the vulgar, and the more so, as these men of the new sects have told the Council, and repeat the same everywhere, that they will not submit themselves to the judgment of the bishops and prelates, who are interested, but that they demand for judges the King, the Queen, and the King of Navarre; and in all these their follies they find many princes and lords who give them support.
Paris, 23rd August 1561.
Aug. 24 Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 279. Michiel Surian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Account of a reconciliation between the Duke de Guise and the Prince of Condé.
Paris, 24th August 1561.
Sept. 8. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 280. Michiel Surian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
To-morrow the King and Queen are to be at Poissy, where Beza will be with some others of his sect. The Nuncio and Cardinal d'Armagnac told my secretary that if these people wish to speak of the matters which are treated of in the convention (convento), viz., reformation of life and regulation of abuses, they (the Nuncio and Cardinal) will not only listen, but accept any useful proposition which may be made; but if they (Beza and the others) attempt to speak about dogmas and those matters which are the essence of our faith, and as to which they dissent from the Church, they (the Nuncio and Cardinal) will either not hear them, or, if they listen, they will make no reply; or, if they reply at all, it will be in writing. But if it be true what the Queen told me, that there will be no disputation about dogmas, everything will go off quietly, although I do not believe her Majesty understands what is meant by this word dogmas. I fear, indeed, that, like others here who daily insist on disputing about religion, and who are all or mostly ignorant, she confounds dogmas with rites and abuses, as if they were all one and the same thing. The Queen further assured me, firstly, that no change would be made in religion; secondly, that the obedience to his Holiness would not be altered in any way; and, thirdly, that no attempt would be made to alienate church property.
Paris, 8th September 1561.
Sept. 22. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 281. Michiel Surian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Having been to the Court I found the Queen greatly contented with a discourse (raggionamento) which the Cardinal of Lorraine had made the day before in public at Poissy, in answer to Beza, and in which his Lordship treated diffusely under three heads upon three principal points which those people (coloro) had touched. The first was that the King, being a member of the Church, and not the head, cannot make himself judge in matters of religion and faith, but has to obey the Decrees. The second was what is understood by the name of Church, in which these heretics are in great error, not understanding what the Scripture says of it, although of itself (da se) it is very clear. The third was on the subject of the most holy sacrament. On all these three points he spoke in such a manner that he not only confirmed in the truth those who are Catholics, but unsettled many of the adversaries. I understand that the Prince of Condé said to the Cardinal d'Armagnac that he was highly satisfied with this discourse.
Paris, 22nd September 1561.


  • 1. There are two copies of this Report, one dated 1560, and the other 1571; hut it appears to have been written at the beginning of the year 1559. As it was not noticed in time to be inserted in its proper place, it will be convenient to insert it here.
  • 2. In another place (f. 337 b) it is stated incidentally, that owing to the debasement of the English coinage in the reign of Henry VIII., all the good money was exported from England to other countries.
  • 3. This and the following despatches of 1561 were accidentally overlooked till after the other despatches of that year had been printed.
  • 4. i.e., to congratulate the new King on his accession. The departure of the two Venetian Ambassadors Extraordinary is recorded in a despatch of Michiel Surian, dated 16th June 1561.
  • 5. Sir Nicholas Throckmorton was the Ambassador here alluded to.
  • 6. This must have been some days before the date of the letter, as Queen Mary had embarked on the 14th of August. (Mignet, p. 83.)