Venice: November 1566

Pages 383-386

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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November 1566

Nov. 3. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives. 373. Marc' Antonio Barbaro, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Signory.
Sad news has arrived from Scotland to the effect that the Queen has been seized with acute internal pain and high fever, which have rendered her insensible for such a length of time, that there is very little hope of her life, and this calamity is aggravated by a suspicion that her death may be violent, and procured by poison.
By whom, and with what design, this great wickedness has been perpetrated, your Serenity, who remembers past affairs, may form your judgment for yourself.
Paris, 3rd November 1566.
P.S.—Detained until the 4th November.
A Princess, personally the most beautiful in all Europe, and of a most cultivated and candid disposition, is about to die; and although this misfortune is of itself greatly to be deplored, other evils greater and more general will follow, as it may now be said that the Catholic religion will become extinct in that Kingdom, both because those who govern and have authority with the King are its open enemies, and also because the King himself is disaffected towards it.
The Queen leaves a son just born, who will now imbibe this poison with his milk, and there can be no doubt but that he will rather resemble his father than his most virtuous and religious mother.
The Secretary for England, who since the death of the Queen of England's Ambassador has had the charge of negotiations for her Majesty, has this day communicated to me a letter from Cecil, in which he gives him account that in the Parliament two proposals had been made, the one concerning the Queen's marriage, the other concerning the succession to the Crown should her Majesty die without issue.
To the first she seems not to consent, but she would not hear one word with regard to the second, but nevertheless the principal persons persist in their opinion that these two questions must first be decided, and then they will deliberate upon the matters which her Majesty desires to propose.
Nov. 6. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives. 374. Marc' Antonio Barbaro, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Signory.
The Ambassador from Scotland came to me to-day with the good news that his Queen, after being in extreme danger until the 26th October, and especially on the 25th, when for two consecutive hours she was supposed by every one to be dead, having lost sight, hearing, and sense, and becoming cold as ice, now thanks to God is so much better, that it is hoped and almost believed that she is certain to live.
The illness was caused by her dissatisfaction at a decision made by the King, her husband, to go to a place twenty-five or thirty miles distant, without assigning any cause for it; which departure so afflicted this unfortunate Princess, not so much for the love she bears him, as from the consequences of his absence, which reduced her to the extremity heard by your Serenity.
Let God be ever praised for preserving this most virtuous Princess, who is worthy to live not only the ordinary term of life, but for a far more lengthened period.
Paris, 6th November 1566.
Nov. 12. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives. 375. Marc' Antonio Barbaro, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Signory.
Announces his entry into Paris on the 8th instant, when he was met and received by the Most Reverend Nuncio, the Ambassadors from Savoy and Florence, and the Bishop of Mondovi, his Holiness's Nuncio designate in Scotland, all of whom, to do honour to the Ambassador Surian, accompanied him for a considerable distance on his way.
Letters from Spain report that Captain Monluc with nine vessels and fourteen armed boats has taken the Island della Medera[Madeira], which belongs to the King of Portugal, who is now preparing a strong force to send thither. This news has greatly displeased the Queen, who has given orders that no one is to proceed to assist Monlue, but he has nevertheless many supporters, who aver that he was first provoked, because when he sent some boats to buy provisions they were fired upon; and then when Monluc for this affront landed his people, they found no resistance, and retaliated with sword and fire just as they pleased.
Paris, 12th November 1566.
Nov. 26. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives. 376. Marc' Antonio Barbaro, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Signory.
The Ambassador from Scotland has acquainted his most Christian Majesty that the Queen his Sovereign has completely recovered from her illness, and that during the time when she had no hope of life her son was likewise in peril of death, but now by God's grace they have both recovered, and her Majesty expects shortly to recover her strength.
It is also reported that the Scottish Parliament have determined that the Prince is to be baptized according to the Roman rite, and this solemnity is only delayed until the arrival of an Ambassador from the Duke of Savoy, to represent his Excellency.
It has also been decided to receive the Nuncio of the Pope, who has been residing here for some months by order of the Queen of Scotland in order to await the result of the disturbances in that Kingdom; but now the Queen has urgently summoned the Nuncio, and advised him to undertake the journey.
Paris, 26th November 1566.
Bequeathed MSS. Portfolio 19. 377. Report of Rome, by the most illustrious Paul Tiepolo, 1565–66.
If the great and supreme authority exercised by the Pontiffs which I have described to you had been used only for the purposes for which it was conceded to them, namely, the benefit and salvation of the human race, they would have been perpetually loved, feared, reverenced, and obeyed by all Christians, and their superiority as the delegates of God upon earth acknowledged universally in all parts of the world. But they have abused this authority by interfering in temporal matters, and have, in fact sought no other end but the advantage and aggrandisement of themselves and their kindred, without considering it wrong to grant benefits and favours to the least deserving, to give to one what ought to have been sufficient for a hundred, to practise a thousand abominable abuses in the church of God, to nourish scandals and wars between Christian princes, and to carry on the same evils themselves, not from necessity, but simply from ambition and self-interest, insomuch that the barbarians have rarely entered Italy unless with the consent or connivance of the Pontiffs. It is therefore not to be wondered at that heresies and disorders should have oppressed and burdened Christendom; and it is from these causes that Martin Luther, the origin of so many evils, acquired influence by attacking practices which could not be defended, and thus opened a way to diffuse his poison, and to reproduce the opinions of Johann Huss and Jerome of Prague, which had more than 100 years since taken root in Bohemia; and Luther, inventing many other new doctrines, was easily able to persuade men already evilly disposed to follow him in multiplying abominable and most wicked heresies. Although great difference of opinion exists amongst the heretics themselves, yet they are all united in denying the authority of the Pontiff and the Roman Church, an authority formerly accepted all over the world, but now so greatly reduced and straitened that without mentioning Africa and Asia, where the name of the Pontiff is scarcely ever heard, and the countries which obey the Greek Patriarch, amongst whom are the Moravians, Russians, and Moldavians, and other numerous nations who do not recognise the Pontiff, but dealing on]y with the inhabitants of Europe, who hitherto not only obeyed the Pontiff but followed in every respect the rites and customs of the Roman Church, and celebrated their offices in the Latin tongue, it will be found that England and Scotland, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, and all the kingdoms and countries of the north, have absolutely renounced his rule; Germany is almost all lost, following the example of Bohemia; and Poland is in great part infected. The Low Countries of Flanders are so corrupt that for a remedy they have been given the Duke of Alva, and it is difficult even for him to restore these provinces to their pristine health. Finally, France is in a state of disturbance and confusion, such as must necessarily follow where there are so many differences and conflicts concerning religion. Thus it would appear that no countries remain sound, and faithful to the Pontiff, except Spain and Italy, with a few islands, and those provinces which are the possessions of your Serenity in Dalmatia and Greece. Hence we see how a malady spreads when not cured at its commencement, and that it not only becomes burdensome and painful to each particular member, but corrupts and destroys the greater part, if not the whole, of the body.
The Pope gave aid to the Queen of Scotland while she was defending the Catholic religion in her own person, and he had appointed a Nuncio in order the better to favour her; but now that the Queen is a prisoner, and that kingdom is lost, the Pope can do nothing but grieve.