Venice: August 1563

Pages 365-369

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 1563

Aug. 6. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives. 341. Marc' Antonio Barbaro, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Signory.
On the 28th ultimo the English in Havre de Grace agreed to surrender the place to the King, and to embark in four days; then on the 30th July the Admiral of England [Edward Lord Clinton] appeared in sight of that place, with thirty ships, and five galliots to succour it, not knowing that the capitulation had been already made.
The King's artillery was then directed towards the sea, to prevent the Admiral from doing what he intended, and the Admiral became aware he had arrived too late, because the agreement was in part effected, and many of the English garrison had embarked; the King being master of the fort and harbour. So the Admiral was given to understand by his most Christian Majesty, that if he had anything to say, he might land freely, when he would be welcomed and well received; but he replied that he had no other commission but to succour Havre de Grace; and that those within having shown themselves more solicitous to surrender than became them, he would not say more, and thus he set sail the same evening with the fleet, nor is it known in what direction he has gone. The English still left then departed, and the King's army entered on Sunday the 1st of August, some French infantry being left there as a garrison; and the Constable will remain for four or six days to give orders to repair the fortress and for other necessary purposes. The King has retired some leagues from the camp on account of the plague.
In this province, where the climate is cold, it is not possible to cultivate vines, but in place of wine, apples and pears grow in the field, and from these fruits they make a drink called cider (sidro), which serves them as a substitute for wine.
I have come hither from Rouen, where all the other Ambassadors are residing, to ascertain in what direction the Court intends to proceed; there are various opinions with regard to this matter, but it would seem that as this province of Normandy is much infected with the new religion, the King, being now in arms and victorious, will see to the prevention of fresh tumults, which were encouraged by the English near these harbours; so tomorrow the King goes to Dieppe, whither I went the other day to see its port. It is a maritime city and entirely Huguenot, and when I dismounted the landlady invited my attendants to hear a preaching of these ministers which was then about to take place, and which the inhabitants were about to attend; nor is the mass any longer said there, and the whole population is most obstinate in these new opinions. The King is expected to commence repressing these disorders.
The city of Caen (Can) near this place is also quite Huguenot, as are also many persons here at Rouen, and in other places; so these disorders must be suppressed before the departure of the Court, as hinted to me by the Queen at my last audience, when I congratulated her on the acquisition of Havre de Grace.
Whilst these measures are being taken, the intentions of the Queen of England will likewise become more manifest, as also what her Admiral will do with his fleet; and, perhaps, the Queen of England knowing that this Crown was in the right in recovering its fortress, matters may be adjusted either by peace or truce.
Rouen, 6th August 1563.
Aug. 7. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives. 342. Marc' Antonio Barbaro, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Signory.
The English Ambassador [Throckmorton] arrived yesterday in this city, to treat the agreement about Havre de Grace, and sent one of his attendants with apologies from his master for not coming to see me, and to give me account of what had taken place since his arrival.
He said that when this Ambassador from England arrived here at Rouen, he sent a representative to the Court for audience of their Majesties, and that for the same purpose, the other Ambassador here, his predecessor [Smith], went thither also; and that they had been detained (trattenuti) some days by the Queen, who delayed their audience, apologizing in various ways; and then at length, when the agreement about Havre de Grace was, as it were, concluded, they were given to understand that they might come and say what they pleased; but finding that the negotiation was completed, this Ambassador did not go, but the other who was resident here went alone, to whom I believe that strong language with much resentment was used, and but little to his satisfaction.
It is also reported that the Queen said she would have this last Ambassador [Smith] put in the Bastille as one who had entered her kingdom without safe conduct. (fn. 1) Her Majesty is also greatly offended with the Ambassador [Throckmorton] who, a year ago, was here, and who went to Orleans, because she hears that all these negotiations proceeded from him; so the Queen, having arrived lately here at Rouen, has put him under guard, professing to give him company for his own safety, and thus he remains and cannot depart. He complains that his Majesty having given a general safe conduct for any person sent by the Queen of England about this treaty, he had the right to remain, and return freely; and novo this wrong is done him; and I suspect that he will not be released, nor yet the other Ambassador, until Queen Elizabeth releases the French Ambassador resident with her [Paul de Foix], and the four hostages given heretofore for the restitution of Calais in accordance with the last peace.
I did my best to console the Ambassador, and expressed my hope that the King and Queen, being most prudent, would succeed in arriving at a satisfactory conclusion, and that although his Excellency could not take part in the agreement concerning Havre, he nevertheless might act in such a way as to reconcile all their Majesties.
Rouen, 7th August 1563.
[Italian; the portion in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
Aug. 13. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives. 343. Marc' Antonio Barbaro, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Signory.
The King, having obtained a great victory by the recovery of Havre de Grace, intends to strengthen and encourage his adherents and to discomfit his opponents; so his Majesty made his entry into the city of Rouen yesterday, all the Ambassadors being invited, and placed on a platform near the King. The inhabitants paid the King endless congratulations on his victory, which benefits Rouen greatly, Havre being the door through which all the traffic and commerce enters, not only to Rouen, but also to Normandy, and to a great part of this kingdom; and without this commerce the district would very soon suffer greatly. Infinite glory is given to his most Christian Majesty, who has driven the English not only from Havre de Grace, but from the whole kingdom, and has deprived them of any pretensions which they might have.
After these discourses were ended, the King then entered under the canopy, being accompanied by the Princes of the blood, and by us Ambassadors, and proceeded to the Cathedral Church, where he was received by the Cardinal de Bourbon, as Archbishop of Rouen, who was waiting for him with the clergy; and after performing the usual ceremonies the King was accompanied to his lodging in the Abbey of St. Ouen, which belongs to the said Cardinal de Bourbon.
Venice, Ferrara, and Florence were represented by their Ambassadors.
The English Ambassador [Smith] was also invited to this ceremony of the King's entry, but he did not make his appearance, neither did the Prince of Condé, nor any others of that faction; neither was Cardinal Châtillon present, though he arrived at the Court three days ago, when he was very well received, and much honoured.
Then this morning all those who had been absent arrived here; and the Prince of Condé said he had been detained by the illness of Madame de Roye, his mother-in-law, the like being said by Cardinal Châtillon, whose sister she is.
Rouen, 13th August 1563.
Aug. 15. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives. 344. Marc' Antonio Barbaro, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Signory.
The King went to Dieppe to provide for the need of that town. His most Christian Majesty had the Mass said, at which many persons were present, and he dismissed the governor, who is a Huguenot, and appointed in his stead one believed to be a Catholic, and also left two hundred infantry to garrison the place. I understand that the marriage of the Queen of Scotland with the King of the Romans, which the Cardinal of Lorraine is treating, still proceeds. It may indeed be suspected, that there are some great persons here who for their own interests disturb matters; for knowing that the greatness of the House of Guise was much augmented by the relationship formed heretofore with this Crown by the Queen of Scotland their niece, the opponents of the Guises suspect that this treaty for fresh relationship cannot but greatly endanger the other party.
From England, since the capture of Havre de Grace and the departure of the English fleet, nothing more has been heard, but I know that the English Ambassador [Smith], who was here before, went to the Court to know the mind of these Majesties, whether it was for peace or war; and said that, as for himself, he had orders to adjust matters, and to treat and conclude a satisfactory peace. He said this on going to audience, but I do not know what he effected. It seems to me that this Ambassador is not on good terms with the one who came lately [Throckmorton], unless his demeanour be a feint, but the one exaggerates and the other softens difficulties, though the latter is still under arrest.
The King is having the fortress of Havre de Grace repaired, in order to restore that part which was injured by the artillery to its original state; his Majesty being of opinion that as a defence for Frenchmen it will always be strong, but if held by the English it will always be weak. These maritime cities are fitting out their ships, of which they have a very fair quantity; and should the war-prevent them from making mercantile gains, they will at least have the advantage of plundering their enemies.
Rouen, 15th August 1563.
[Italian; the portion in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]


  • 1. Sir Thomas Smith was subsequently imprisoned, as well as Throckmorton. (See Foreign Calendar.)